HACKENSACK, N.J. — Hackensack High School English teacher Caseen Gaines hopes students who've experienced bullying can relate to “Heathers: The Musical,” an off-Broadway production that he's bringing to New Jersey for the first time next month.
Gaines is the co-producer and co-artistic director of the musical comedy, which runs from Oct. 16 through the end of the month at the Hackensack Cultural Art Center.
Spun off the 1988 film "Heathers," starring Winona Ryder, the play is a "sort of a dark version of 'Mean Girls'," he said.
The musical tells the story of a high school boy hell-bent on killing members of a popular female clique after his girlfriend befriends them.
“It’s really a sort of fun look at the 1980s, with a poignant message about being an adolescent and the pains of being a teenager,” said Gaines, an award-winning author who released his third novel this summer.
“If you’re a teen it’s something you can relate to," he said, "but it will ring true for most people who were teenagers in the 1980s.”
Gaines’ inspiration for “Heather: The Musical” comes mostly from having been a student. He hopes the universal truths of bullying will come across in his production.
“A lot of high school experiences are the same for people — it’s just the medium that’s different,” he said. “Whether you’re bullied over social media or in the cafeteria, bullying is bullying.”
The Oct. 29 performance will be followed by a Q&A with Barrett Wilburt Weed, the star of the show’s off-Broadway production.
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