Westerville South High School Theatre Troupe 513 will stage a story that reflects the lives of teens with "Heathers: The Musical (High School Edition)."
Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 14, as well as 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, at the school, 303 S. Otterbein Ave.
Director Matt Wolfe said the musical is filled with dark comedy.
The show is rated PG13 for mature themes and language.
"While it is a bit edgier than we are used to at Westerville South High School, with the support of the school community and my amazing theater parents, we are bringing a story to life that reflects the attitudes and tribulations of our teens," he said. "I have had the pleasure of watching 23 amazing teens not only rise to the level of this very difficult material, but also create an environment of trust and love."
Wolfe said it's a poignant, important show about the way people treat one another.
"The lesson is not just about the importance of not being the bully, but rather what can happen if we allow ourselves to be bystanders," he said. "We hope that this show inspires viewers to stand up for what is right and believe in themselves at all costs."
Wolfe said much of the show is built on the relationships between teenagers and adults.
"There is an endless struggle rooted in a lack of clear communication between people my age and their parents, teachers and bosses," he said. "'Heathers' does a fantastic job of emphasizing such connections and highlights the need for teens and adults to come together and work hard to build strong and lasting relationships."
Senior Caroline Warrick, who plays Heather Duke, said the show is challenging because in order to convey really controversial topics with an element of truth, there has to be a comedic element to keep it honest.
"Finding the balance between those two sides of 'Heathers' has been my biggest struggle," she said.
Not only are many of the topics violent and heavy, Warrick said, but they force the audience to think about issues such as suicide and bullying that might be upsetting or uncommon but necessary to address.
"I think having a 13 (and older) requirement will help ensure a mature audience capable of dealing with intense topics," she said.
Senior Abby Messina, who plays Veronica Sawyer, said the show has a lot of important themes.
"I hope that the audience can laugh at the great jokes in this show, as well as think about the way people treat each other and the consequences of our actions," she said. "We can't just be bystanders to bullying -- we have to learn to tolerate, respect and love each other no matter our flaws."
Senior Cherish Myers, who portrays Heather Chandler, said her biggest challenge has been to find the truth in her character and show the audience how she changes from the beginning of the show to the end.
"I wanted to portray Heather Chandler in an honest way and have her come to an understanding of how the world works and have a tolerance for the people around her," she said.
Myers said these are lessons that are needed now more than ever.
"I believe that if we have one person that takes something away and we've impacted their life for the better, then we've done our job as storytellers," she said.
Junior Bayden Jung, who plays Ram Sweeney, said mental illness, bullying and silence in the face of conflict are topics that aren't traditionally mentioned, which often only furthers their effects.
"I hope that the audience walks away wanting to have conversations about these experiences," he said.
There will be a formal opportunity to do just that at a school and community talkback scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, in the Westerville South auditorium.
The purpose is to talk about the experience on opening night or to help people learn about the story before they see the show on Saturday or Sunday.
Tickets to the show cost $10 and will be available at the door.