“Heathers the Musical” is playing Wednesday, Jan. 23, Thursday, Jan. 24, Friday, Jan. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 26 at Dominion Stage at Gunston Theatre Two, 2700 S. Lang Street, Arlington, VA. “Heathers the Musical” which is based on Heathers, a movie, deals with the effects of bullying on high school students. It tries also to explain how these fragile teens deal with their emotions not only as the victims but sometimes as the perpetrators.
Tickets can be purchased online.
I had a chance to ask Matt Calvert who plays J. D. Dean in this production of “Heathers the Musical.” Matt is thrilled to work with such a talented cast on his first Dominion Stage production. His recent credits include Phoebus in “The Hunchback of Norte Dame,” Lucas from “If/Then,” and Will Bloom from “Big Fish the Musical.” He thanks DS for this experience, his family for their never-ending love and support, and the cast for the laughs and the memories.
The character of J.D. changes in the play. He starts off as the nice guy, then the bad guy and finally the nice guy again. Which of these personalities were the hardest for you as an actor?
I think the hardest part for me was the switch back to the good guy at the end. It’s easy to play the nice guy into the bad guy for me because J.D. believes what he is doing is right. This is who he is and the way he is, but as the show gets further along and he gets deeper into his descent into madness, he struggles with the fact that what he’s doing and his need for controlled anarchy is actually wrong. Accepting his self-destructive behaviors is what makes him a good guy again, but it takes going off the rails and losing his mind to realize he is the problem in society, not the cure. I think keeping the energy up through to the end to make his madness and struggle seem believable and honest is the most difficult part of the role for me.
The play deals with bullying. Were you ever bullied or been a witness to bullying? How did you deal with it? Have your views changed based on playing J.D.?
I myself was bullied a little as a small child, but was raised to always stand up for myself. If anybody wanted to mess with me or my friends, they wouldn’t be able to do it without a fight. If I witnessed it, I would always report it or handle it myself to the best of my abilities. J.D. likes to take matters into his own hands and maybe not resolve things as peacefully as I did. However, I think if you see or experience it yourself, you should never take it sitting down and ask for help from others when you need it. I think this role has just reiterated my beliefs on how bullying is wrong and how you should always stand up for yourself as best as you can. But always trying to find a peaceful compromise before taking it to a dangerous level.
What is your favorite scene or line in the play?
My favorite scene is when Martha sings “Kindergarten Boyfriend.” I think it’s the most beautiful song in the show, and I love what Amanda [Herman] does with it. It’s so different from the rest of the show, and I just love it.
“Heathers” also deals with the availability of guns to not very well-balanced high school students? Has this changed your own beliefs or reaffirmed the ones you already had?
I think availability of guns is a huge issue in this country, especially in our schools. Having to get into the mindset of J.D. for this show has done nothing but reaffirm my beliefs that guns are way too accessible to unstable and unbalanced people.
After playing J.D. what role would you most like to land If you could pick any musical?
Playing JD makes me want to play all of the villains in theatre. The dream would be to play anybody in “Assassins.” I would love to tackle Clyde in “Bonnie and Clyde,” and probably Morritz in “Spring Awakening.”