“Heathers: the Musical” producer spills advice

Matt Sowell

If you’re a theatre person, you’ve probably heard of “Heathers,” the tiny off-Broadway show that packed a giant punch and gathered a cult following all around the country. We interviewed the show’s producer, J. Todd Harris, to learn more about the show and see what advice he had for young people who were interested in showbiz.

Harris, a graduate of Stanford University, has produced over 40 movies and is a member of the Motion Picture Academy. From “Jeepers Creepers” and “Piranha 3D” to “Heathers: the Musical,” he’s done it all.

“Heathers” follows the story of Veronica Sawyer, a senior in high school and her star-crossed lover JD, a gun wielding psychopath. Veronica is friends with the three most popular girls in school, the Heathers. After the mythic-bitch, Heather Chandler, vows to destroy Veronica, the lovers get their revenge by killing off the popular kids. The musical is based off of the cult-classic movie and added another layer of depth to an already meaningful movie.

“We knew ‘Heathers’ would have a cult following, but we were surprised with the response we got from audiences,” said Harris, adding that many people saw the show multiple times, even dressing up for the show, similar to “Rocky Horror”. However, social media added another level to the fan base; the show has an efficiently sassy Twitter and is regularly getting fans involved.

Harris said that he believes the reason the show resonated with so many people is because of its message. “Everyone is so lost at the beginning of the show,” said Harris, explaining that everyone who survives the show finds their way at the end. “Although bullying has changed mediums, its ugly nature isn’t very different and hasn’t changed much in, well, the entirety of history,” he said.

Though the show recently closed off-Broadway, Harris revealed plans for a movie and Broadway transfer in the future. “The ideal situation is to have them both released at the same time, around 2016,” he said.

As for advice for anyone interested in showbiz, Harris said to get to New York City or Los Angeles. “Get some hands on experience and be in the thick of it as soon as possible. If you can’t get there, get to the highest level of professional execution within your geographic area as possible. Don’t sit back. The entertainment business is not looking for you, you must find it. You don’t have to stay in New York or LA or London, but if you can pay some dues in one of those places, it will pay off,” he said.