Weath­er­ing the Heathers

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly Life - TANYA MACNAUGHTON

MUCH is said about the hec­tic sched­ules be­stowed on WAAPA stu­dents and the same is true for staff too.

As­so­ciate dean of per­for­mance An­drew Lewis has worked at WAAPA for 10 years af­ter train­ing as a di­rec­tor there more than 30 years ago.

In be­tween he di­rected theatre in Melbourne and Syd­ney be­fore mov­ing into tele­vi­sion, di­rect­ing ev­ery­thing from Home and Away to Play School.

“I came back to Perth to visit fam­ily (he grew up in Swan­bourne) and to di­rect a chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion series,” Lewis said.

“They asked me to come in and di­rect a play here at the same time they were start­ing up the WA Screen Academy, which is a sis­ter school to WAAPA at ECU. So I’m the head of per­for­mance at WAAPA but also come across to the WA Screen Academy; I have a very big port­fo­lio that I love – mu­sic theatre, act­ing, dance and all of the WA Screen Academy as well.”

Lewis’s fo­cus is on di­rect­ing third-year mu­sic theatre stu­dents in Heathers the Mu­si­cal, in­spired by the 1988 Amer­i­can cult film star­ring Wi­nona Ry­der and Chris­tian Slater and set in a time when school mas­sacres and teenage sui­cide were not so com­mon.

“It’s a deep dark satire on high school life in Amer­ica in the 1980s,” he said.

“It uses that idea of Mean Girls and takes it to a much darker edge. It ties in teenage sui­cide, bul­ly­ing and all those types of heavy scenes and de­liv­ers it in a very en­ter­tain­ing and hu­mor­ous man­ner.”

Lewis said he chose the mu­si­cal for this year’s pro­gram af­ter see­ing the show in Melbourne last year and watch­ing clips from an off-broad­way pro­duc­tion on Youtube.

“I didn’t mind the film but I just thought the mu­si­cal de­liv­ered it bet­ter,” he said.

“Ul­ti­mately it’s a great com­edy about two high school stu­dents who un­in­ten­tion­ally make sui­cide pop­u­lar and is for any­one who likes The Break­fast Club, Clue­less or Mean Girls. It has some dark un­der­tones but is re­ally au­da­cious and dra­mat­i­cally sat­is­fy­ing, pro­vid­ing great scope for our stu­dents.

“The stu­dents have lapped it up and love it be­cause the songs are rock/pop and they’re play­ing char­ac­ters their own age, which is rare.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d466379

Nick Er­rol and Monique War­ren with and Heathers (from left) Meg Mck­ib­bin, Jenna Cur­ran and Daisy Va­le­rio.

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