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HEATHERS Opens July 14

June 2, 2023 – The Live Arts Teen Summer Musical returns with a darkly funny and slyly subversive musical for summer 2023! HEATHERS THE MUSICAL: Teen Edition is written and composed by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, based on the 1980s cult classic film Heathers by Daniel Waters. Directed by Daniel Kunkel with music direction by Abby Smith, the Live Arts production brings together talented teens from all over Central Virginia for 10 performances, July 14 through July 30, 2023, at Live Arts Theater, 123 E. Water Street, in Charlottesville.

Live Arts will host three special events for HEATHERS: A free preview performance on Thursday, July 13 at 7:30pm; an opening night reception following the performance on Friday, July 14, 2023; and a post-show audience talkback on Sunday, July 23 (2pm curtain). Pay-What-You-Can performances sponsored by Ting Charlottesville will be held on July 15 and 27. Audiences are welcome to enjoy the bar and concessions before the show and during intermission at the Third Floor Becker Bar at Live Arts.

Tickets for HEATHERS THE MUSICAL: Teen Edition ($20-$22 or Pay-What-You-Can on designated nights) are available through the Box Office at, by phone at 434-977-4177 x123, or online at Tickets for the free preview performance on Thursday, July 13 can be reserved in advance through the Box Office. 

About the Show

“Are you in, or are you out?” HEATHERS THE MUSICAL: Teen Edition is a hilarious – and homicidal – show based on the 1988 cult classic film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. Meet Veronica Sawyer, a brainy teenage “misfit” with makeover potential and a talent for forgery. Veronica weasels her way into The Heathers, the most powerful and ruthless clique at Westerberg High. While trying to get her bearings at the popular table, Veronica falls for J.D., the dangerous and mysterious new kid. When Veronica stops a cruel trick about to be played on her longtime best friend, Heather #1 threatens to kick her out of the group. Veronica almost caves, but J.D. has other plans to take down (and bury) The Heathers. 

‘Heathers’ still cliques in musical re-imagining …” – New York Post 

The Live Arts production of HEATHERS is directed by Daniel Kunkel, with music direction by Abby Smith and choreography by Anne Talkington, and showcases 17 multi-talented young performers: Eliza Banaszak, Dahlia Becker, Korinne Brier, Sophia Christensen, Soren Corbett, Violet Craghead-Way, Morgan Geissman, Hope King, Ben Lohr, Ethan Phelps, Gavin Pugh, Anya Rothman, Nik Scott, Ezra Smith, Lucy Strandquist, Elena Witt, and Jacob Wunderler. The production also features a dynamic creative team: Mandy Shuker (production stage manager); Nicole Hardson-Hurley (assistant stage manager); Etta Feigert (scenic design); Joshua Reid (lighting design); Daniel Angell (sound design/engineer); Liz Stone and Anna Stockdale (costume design); Daryl O’Connor (properties design); Hanah Zimmerman (assistant director); and Laura Rikard (intimacy consultant).

Performance History

Based on the 1988 cult film, HEATHERS THE MUSICAL was first developed in 2010 when the film’s director paired Laurence O’Keefe up with Kevin Murphy. The first performance was in September 2010 at Joe’s Pub in New York City, followed by a run in Los Angeles in 2013, and an Off-Broadway run at New World Stages starting in 2013. The musical received two Drama Desk nominations and two Lucille Lortel nominations.

About the Creators

Laurence O’Keefe was a producer of the original LA and NY productions of HEATHERS (Drama Desk nomination for music). With his wife Nell Benjamin, he won the Olivier Award (London’s Tony) for co-writing Legally Blonde: The Musical, which ran two and a half years on the West End and has toured the UK. Legally Blonde received seven Tony Award nominations, two US national tours, and several international productions. Larry wrote the Off-Broadway award-winning Bat Boy: The Musical, which has received 500+ productions worldwide. Other credits include: The Daily Show, SyFy’s Defiance, the Disney Channel, PBS, and Cirque du Soleil. 

Kevin Murphy was a producer of the original LA and NY productions of HEATHERS (Drama Desk nomination for music). He also provided lyrics and co-wrote the book for the award-winning stage musical Reefer Madness and was a producer on both the original Los Angeles and Off-Broadway productions, and co-adapter of Reefer into a Showtime Original movie. Other TV credits include Desperate Housewives, Defiance, Ed, Reaper, Caprica and Hellcats.

About the Artistic Team

Director Daniel Kunkel (he/him) is a director, writer, stage combatant, and podcaster. He has taught theater in person and remotely in New York City, Virginia, Oregon, and Ohio, and has been producing and developing plays, podcasts, and videos since 2016. Daniel is currently pursuing his Masters of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Musical Director Abby Smith is the choir director at Henley Middle School and Western Albemarle High School and also teaches private instrumental lessons at the Music Education Center. She has been a part of Live Arts for the past five years, including counseling/instructing various summer camps and playing in the pit orchestra for previous shows including CRYBABY, RENT, and IN THE HEIGHTS.

Choreographer Anne Talkington trained with the North Carolina State Ballet performing roles such as Clara in The Nutcracker, Four Little Swans in Swan Lake, and Fairy of Eloquence in Sleeping Beauty. She attended the Carolina Ballet’s intensive program and studied at the Duke University Dance Program. Other credits include Ira David Wood III’s A Christmas Carol (Theatre in the Park); Merry Wives of Windsor (Sweet Tea Shakespeare); modeling for the Durham Dances book project; and Dance Captain for Something Rotten! at the Wayne Theatre. Her choreography has appeared in productions by the Duke University Dance Program and SITA Film Productions. 

About Live Arts 

Live Arts is a volunteer-powered, nonprofit community theater in Downtown Charlottesville. Founded in 1990, Live Arts is celebrating 33 years of forging theater and community.

Live Arts is supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and philanthropic gifts by hundreds of theater lovers in our community.

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