Dark, disturbing, risqué and damned funny

Ginevra Wohlstadt – the debut director – on set at Heathers. Photo: Nikki South.

There’s one song called ‘My Dead Gay Son’. “They were not dirty, they were not wrong,” the lyrics go. “They were two lonely verses in the Lord’s great song.”

It’s just one of the many serious, dark, and hilariously funny themes touched on in ‘Heathers’ – Tauranga Musical Theatre’s new production opening this month.

‘My Dead Gay Son’ is a song about two homophobic dads coming to terms with their gay sons. There’s a delightful twist when they come out themselves.

There is also a song about balls – genitalia, dangly bits. “You’ll hurt their feelings, you make my balls so blue” – de-dum-de-dah. And as first time director Ginevra Wohlstadt explains, “If you are a young teenage man and you aren’t getting laid, then there could be problems.”

The show addresses that issue in song, and the dirty ditty will be ringing out from the Westside Theatre all the way back up Tauranga’s gentrified and ever-so-slightly superior avenues.

But that sniffiness is not the target demographic, certainly not when there are songs about male bits and censors’ warnings of strong adult themes, including suicide, gun violence, sexual content, and strong language. Recommended for audiences M15+.

“We’re appealing to the late 20s and 30s,” says first Ginevra. So for those nostalgic for the 1988 cult movie starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, come see the musical. “Definitely new age,” says Ginevra. “And the younger generation which enjoys musical theatre, will know every song in this show.” Balls and all.

“In terms of show selections, we’re really pushing the envelope,” says Ginevra. She’s mischievous and you sense she enjoys the idea of titillating, shocking, and even outraging.

Ginevra? “Yeah, thanks Mum!” Although she answers to ‘G’. With the Italian given name and German family name, it’s just perfect for theatre credits. Director – Ginevra Wohlstadt has a certain mana.

‘Heathers’ is actually three girls called Heather who are the cool girls’ clique at an American high school. Veronica is the disillusioned popular girl who falls in love with a dangerous and destructive loner called JD. They attempt to right their school’s social politics and end up on a killing spree. ‘Heathers’ explores empowerment and vulnerability in relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and school communities. It’s a show of high emotion, and with the gun climate around schools in the US, ‘Heathers’ is probably disturbingly current.

Hilariously black, they say, but smart and cutting with what’s described as wonderfully ‘cack’ eighties music.

When The Weekend Sun talks to ‘G’, she’s brushing up ready for the photo shoot. She’s just in off her bobcat. “Why would you not want a big machine to play with?” She runs the bobcat business with her partner – site prepping and landscaping. “There’s a slice of pie for everyone in New Zealand, and we have got a slice of the pie.”

G’s a country girl - from the Barossa shiraz valley. She cut her teeth driving blast hole drillers in the mines near Perth. “I did geo-science and the mining boom was about to take off when I was 18.” The money was good and explosives can be exciting for girls too. But the theatre and Tauranga called.

This month the words of Ginevra Wohlstadt’s high school drama teacher will be resonating. “I wanted to be an actor but the teacher told me I might make a good director.” What was she telling the young G?

“Anyhow it’s the team that builds confidence and success. I am not nervous, but I am excited.”

‘Heathers – the Musical’ is on at Tauranga Musical Theatre’s Westside Theatre from August 18 to September 1. Tickets can be bought on line at www.iticket.co.nz/events/2018/aug/heathers or at the door.

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