Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre Season to Open with “Heathers”

Posted: September 29, 2017

Jenna Sulecki has a confession to make. "'Heathers' is my favorite musical. I heard 'Candy Store,' a big number from the show, and the song changed my life. It was so bold, risky and brash that it reignited my love of theater."

That love led her to transfer from Point Park University, where she had been a public relations major, to Gannon University, where the 2017 graduate will direct "Heathers-The Musical" to open the Schuster Theatre's 2017-18 season.

Based on the 1989 film, "Heathers" is the story of misfit Veronica Sawyer who rejects the tyranny of three scrunchie-wearing, shoulder-padded Westerberg High School girls, all named Heather. With the help of her mysterious new boyfriend, J.D., Veronica plots a dark end for the cruelest high school girls in Ohio.

With the current revival of interest in all things 90s, "Heathers" is a perfect choice to begin the Schuster season and to be incorporated into Gannon's Surviving and Thriving in Difficult Times series of events, but it's an unusual favorite show, even for a theater fan such as Sulecki.

"It's not the show you expect to change your life, but it changed mine, and it was resonant to where I was at my life at that time and relevant to the Surviving and Thriving theme," Sulecki said. "When I saw it, I said to myself, it's time to stop surviving and start thriving."

Sulecki has done just that. Though she had completed her course work at Gannon in time to graduate last December, she spent the past academic year in Ireland at Mary Immaculate College where she made her directorial debut with the musical "Godspell" last spring.

"Musicals are different to direct than plays," Sulecki said. "Working with people I didn't know at Mary Immaculate helped me to work with people I knew and didn't know here. It gave me a structure for rehearsals, and I learned how to block things quickly and be efficient in rehearsals."

She learned that the Schuster Theatre planned to mount a production of "Heathers" from Rev. Shawn Clerkin, associate professor of theatre. "I talked to Shawn when he visited Ireland and sat down over coffee and practically begged him to let me direct it."

Sulecki said the show is an appropriate curtain raiser for a year in which the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences is exploring the theme of triumph over adversity. "It's the perfect thing to start the season, because there's no more perfect setting to illustrate being upside down than high school."

"Heathers-The Musical" features Grace Schaefer as Veronica Sawyer, Chase Miles
as Jason "J.D." Dean and Angela Weeks Rebecca Ropelewski and Cheyenne-Michelle Stefano as the Heathers, Chandler, McNamara and Duke respectively.

Performances are Sept 28-30 at 8 p.m., Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. and Oct 5-7 at 8 p.m. at Gannon University's Schuster Theatre, 620 Sassafras St. General admission tickets are $7, $5 for Gannon faculty, staff and students with a current Gannon ID. Reservations can be made by clicking here.