Taking the Lead!

Senior Shae-Lin Carr stars as Veronica Sawyer for "Heathers" musical


Madison Geering

Senior Shae-Lin Carr sings the song "Seventeen" from the cast recording of the musical "Heathers." She is rehearsing the second act of the Off Broadway production at Party Fitness Studio, in preparation for their first show on November 17th, 2018.

Kara Barragan, Web Editor

Bonita Vista High senior Shae-Lin Carr takes out her diary and begins to write with her pen: “September 1st, 2018: Dear Diary,” she says as she opens up the first act of Heathers: The Musical, by the company Off-Broadway.

Madison Geering
Shae-Lin Carr’s diary entry as lead role “Veronica”, showing the opening song Beautiful.

The musical is based off of the 1980’s classic film, Heathers, filled to the brim with high school romance, parties, snobby cliques and muted suicides. Out of the 80 people who auditioned, S. Carr received a phone call before performing in the Bonitafest Melodrama, saying that she would be starring as the lead role, Veronica Sawyer.

“I was in the same room with the rest of the Bonitafest Melodrama cast when she received the call from the director of “Heathers” offering her the role of Veronica. We could hear [the director] and we all cheered for her. I was elated that she was cast in her dream role,” S. Carr’s mom, Tanya Carr said.

Prior to S. Carr receiving the role, she had been 3-4 hours late to her callback, also known as a follow up audition. When she had arrived, there were seven girls left in the running for the role of Veronica, but Director, Producer and Choreographer Kyle Adam Hawk had allowed her to audition. She was then called back for two contrasting roles: Veronica Sawyer and teacher Mrs. Fleming.

“[S. Carr] was the one person who reached out, had a connection, touched [Jason Dean’s] face and really went that extra step to where I was like ‘oh she’s vulnerable and can go there; she’s fearless,’” Hawk said. “There was not a question in my mind that she was going to be the one to tell the story, because Veronica is such a huge part in everyone’s journey.”

All roles were finalized on Sept. 30, after numerous calls made by Hawk to members who were casted to make sure they were able to participate. Followed by a post on Off-Broadway’s official Instagram page (@offbroadwaytheathercompany), which revealed all concluded roles to the public.

“[Veronica] is one of the most vocally demanding roles on Broadway ever, it’s just such a hard voice type to match or sing,” S. Carr said. “I think makes it even harder to be in control of choreography, so overall it’s a really hard show to begin with.”

It was the first day of rehearsal when S. Carr walked into the Mission Gorge Studio and was approached by her cast greeting her by saying “Veronica’s here!.”

Carr mentioned how they had jumped into learning three songs on their first day of rehearsals. The opening act, Beautiful, embarks the transformation of S. Carr into a Heather; earning her blue scrunchie. Then came Big Fun, representing a high school party with props including blunts made of oregano and numerous red cups. Lastly, the song Dead Gay Son which played as the cast raised their hands and twirled as the fathers of Ram Sweeney and Kurt Kelley (a.k.a the Jocks), sing about their acceptance towards their boys’ “gay forbidding love” for eachother.

Madison Geering
Shae-Lin Carr poses in a scene from “Heathers.”

During the week of Oct. 29 to Aug. 4, they had started reading through their scripts as a collective cast. The cast rehearses every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with occasional mid-week rehearsals for the leads, according to S. Carr and T. Carr. Within the first four rehearsals, the cast had learned the entire show.

“The rehearsals are closed sessions but when I park the car, I roll down the window and I hear them rehearsing,”  T. Carr said. “I think I’m their biggest fan.”

Regarding the showing of the production, there had been a “double booking mixup”, according to Off-Broadway’s official Instagram page. This means that the show will only be played for one weekend on the dates of Nov. 23, 24 and 25. Tickets for the show range from $20 to $25, depending on the seat purchased.

The cast consists of 23 in total and according to Hawk, they are all “tightly knit.” S. Carr had also mentioned how in 8th grade she had worked with Kiara Geolina who plays the character Heather Duke, and that the rest of the cast were unknown to her at first encounter.

Madison Geering
Shae-Lin Carr and her co-star, Thomas Reasoner socialize during a break in rehearsal.

“I’m genuinely close to some of the people in the show that [play roles that act] terrible to me [when I’m Veronica], but I’m best friends with them in real life because they’re honestly not like that,” S. Carr said. “It’s a really tight-knit cast and I love it.”

In regards to choreography and singing, comparing both Off-Broadway Company’s and the original Broadway renditions of Heathers, Off-Broadway choreography is considered more “intense” than Broadway, as said by S. Carr. With one scene, in particular, Veronica has a subtle sex scene with Jason Dean (or J.D.) in the song Dead Girl Walking, and S. Carr adds on how the scene is “a bit more sexual” than Broadway’s.

“For me I am always 100 percent a singer. If I can avoid dancing at all costs, I will,” S. Carr said. “That being said, I don’t dance that much this show. I dance in a couple of songs but for the most part it’s just me standing singing about: ‘Oh I don’t like my friends’ or ‘Oh I like this boy, oh he’s gonna blow up the school’. You know, while I definitely prefer the singing, this is one of the few shows I’ve been in where I actually do enjoy doing the choreography.”

In regards to the acting aspect, S. Carr was inspired by her co-star Thomas Reasoner, who’s character, J.D., kept a journal to write diary entries. This gave her the idea to write in a journal herself as her character, Veronica, to enhance her personality. In the first few pages of her diary, she had written, in blocky handwriting, the diary entry presented as the opening song, Beautiful. The other pages consisted of faked suicide notes and passes for skipping class. Veronica is known for presenting her diary entries to the audience in between scenes or songs, reflecting on what had happened to her the scene(s) before.

Madison Geering
Shae-Lin Carr performs the song Dead Girl Walking (Reprise), during her rehearsal as lead role “Veronica.”

In the second act with the song Dead Girl Walking (Reprise), S. Carr is seen with her blue croquet mallet, fulminating in distress over J.D.’s plans to blow up the school,  singing riffs and substantially reaching a high note of A5. J.D. then exploded himself in a boiler room with the TNT he had in his possession, ending off with the song Seventeen (Reprise), holding hands with Heather Duke, McNamara and Veronica’s best friend, Martha Dunnstock — “We can be beautiful,” the cast sings together.

Madison Geering
The 4 symbolic croquet mallets that belong to the “Heathers.”

“Performing arts has been in Shae-Lin’s blood forever.  I can’t remember a time she wasn’t in shows. I really would not be surprised to see her cast in tour companies or on Broadway,” T. Carr said. “She is determined and puts in the time and work for it to pay off- it’s just a matter of perseverance and patience.”