YouTube homes the largest video streaming website and has become a vast sea of various personalities, content, and creators. Those unfamiliar with the site might judge it on the surface as being the host of funny cat videos, extreme pranks, or other sensational viral videos. While this content is there, YouTube has evolved to include content far beyond these trendy videos. YouTube is now filled with individual personalities regularly posting content with unique editing and styles as: let’s players, story-tellers, critics, vloggers, animators, and other content creators take pride and joy in entertaining and reaching out to an audience. While it would be understandable that YouTube would become a competitive landscape, these creators on the other hand have often times found that there’s a place for everyone’s content on the site and collaborate amongst each other sharing their audiences and bettering one another’s content. Recently, it was announced that a huge collaborative project has just started up that will have multiple YouTube communities joining forces to put together, Heathers: The (Online) Musical.
First and foremost, what is Heathers? Heathers is a 1988 cult classic that would later go on to inspire other teen girl high school dramas: Clueless and Mean Girls. However, Heathers isn’t what I would describe as a fun, nostalgic movie like these other two. Heathers is a dark comedy that produces a rather odd commentary on teen drama dealing with: cliques, popularity, identity, psychosis, and suicide. Heathers is the tale of Veronica (Winona Ryder), who has become friends with the most popular clique in school three girls all named Heather in which Veronica herself has found herself an honorary Heather. Veronica’s curiosity is peaked by the new kid JD, a dreary and mysterious outsider played by Christian Slater. With this new kid in town tempting Veronica to give into her sinister desires does the entire school get torn a sunder. Heathers is too say the least, an ambitiously original movie and a clever satire on the grim reality of being a teenager. I certainly recommend this film but would preface it by saying that it’s harder to enjoy in a shallow sense in comparison to albeit Mean Girls, or Clueless but if you’re willing to dive deep and buy into the dreadful poetry this film presents it can be quite enjoyable.
With the iconic and fun vibrant production design of the film, it makes a lot of sense that someone thought this would make a delightful musical. So, Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy decided to bring Westerberg high school to the stage and it was received well. The musical stayed true to the blunt awareness of the original but adjusted the story in ways that makes the adaption fresh and more cohesive. The off-Broadway play includes many original songs in which the hits seemed to be considered: “Candy Store”, “Fight For Me”, and “Dead Girl Walking”. The musical like its film predecessor appears to have achieved a cult following an appraisal from those in the theater-loving community.
The Online Musical
So as established before, YouTube is a platform of many talented communities and one of those is that of singers and performers. YouTube hosts these singers and performers who often are posting videos of singing covers of Disney songs or other fan-favorite songs and musicals. Recently it was announced on a channel by the name, Annapantsu that they will be a putting on Heathers: The (online) Musical. This is an extremely ambitious project but if done successful could be trailblazing. The tremendous effort a foot is described as:
“This project will run completely online, meaning those who want to audition will not need to live in a specific place or area. We will be acting, singing, drawing and animating out each song and scene of the musical, which means we’ll be needing a lot of hands on deck!”
This project I think is genius and has a great amount of potential to it. Essentially, a ton of talented people from around the world are joining in a bold collaborative effort; with the wide range of casting set by the internet and with the ability to have the music edited and enhanced it should end up sounding great. I think it’s also important on how inclusive it is in that it isn’t just the singing community making a soundtrack but involves audio editors, artists, and animators to make this a full experience. It really makes me wonder why YouTube Red, the YouTube paid for service, hasn’t attempted something like this. YouTube Red seems to as far as I’m aware feature shows for their flagship channels producing shows below a TV budget. Why not feature large collaborative ventures that promote multiple channels and provides simple yet enjoyable content. If a high school can put on a theatrical production, why can’t the internet.
The biggest two concerns I have about this project is casting and organization/communication throughout the whole thing. The wider you cast your net, the greater your yield will be. I think this can be a showcase for many buried talents but since this seems to be run by some smaller channels, I can only hope they get the word out to a good amount of talented people. Also, who knows how many people will audition for this as its not limited to the few people at your local high school who are comfortable enough to get on stage but potentially the entire internet. With that in mind, like any good production there is going to have to an ordeal of management. Each section of production needs stewardship in terms of deadlines, expectations, and just general communication. There’s quite a bit of responsibility bestowed upon each collaborator to do their part, imagine all those school projects you had in which you couldn’t trust five people let alone 50+ to do a fair share of productive work. To the projects’ runners credit, they seem well aware of this.
“Because we plan to complete this project in the span of 6-8 months, there will be very strict deadlines. If your lines/artwork is not passed in three days after the deadline, you will be replaced. It may seem extreme, but we want to complete this project, not let it die out.”
The project seems in good hands as their information page seems to understand the daunting task of it all, and have prevented issues not casting anyone under the age of thirteen and age restriction on certain characters and songs due to the explicit content of the material.
How You Can Become a Part of it
Does this sound like an exciting experience that you would love to be a part of, then you can. Vocalists and Artists/Story boarders are being audition as of July 12th to July 26th. The following months will be dedicated to recording lines with specific due dates for certain scenes and songs yet to be determined. If you love to sing, have a decent microphone, and are up to the challenge then go for it. Auditions for a main character will have you submitting around a minute long of a song sung by the character and another sampling your singing with a song of your choice to showcase your talent. Just want to join the ensemble, then just the one clip of you singing whatever your heart desires. Apparently, they’ve already auditioned for video editors, animators, sound mixers, arrangers, etc. but if you are skilled in one of these supposed areas then because of how large scale this project could be it might not be a bad idea to offer your services with an email letting them know your willing to help if needed. Unfortunately kids, those under thirteen will not be excepted and certain roles are also reserved to age restrictions due to the content. If you are interested in auditioning for this I will put a link down below for the announcement video that will have a link to a google doc that should further elaborate on all the specifications and ways you can become a part of it.
If you are one to consider yourself musically talented, then go and find out how you can audition it’s truly an interesting opportunity. While I for one am not the biggest musical fan, I do see myself wanting this project to succeed. While YouTube does suffer this stigma of just being viral videos or having an algorithm that supports the wrong content there certainly is no shortage of talented and ambitious people across the site. YouTube is home to many communities of similar content that are beginning to display the strength of collaborative effort and networking. There is something trailblazing in this concept in that there can very possible be a future in this. There is a plethora of musicals out there that the YouTube Community to put out there, we could have online musicals of Hamilton, Rent, The Lion King, I don’t know maybe even Urine Town. Not only in this community but for others too, this out of the box thinking that draws from multiple areas of creation from around the globe could introduce some unique quality content to the internet. It surely will be interesting to see what the YouTube community can produce. Heathers is available on Netflix for anyone interested in seeing the film, and look down below to learn more about Heathers: The (Online) Musical.
- Annapantsu Announcement video and information of the project.
- Alan Zilberman The Bleak Genius of Heathers. The Atlantic.
- Heathers The Musical. SamuelFrench.com
- Images used are from Heathers [credit: New World Pictures/Cinemarque Entertainment]