The NYAA are held at the end of each academic year to recognize outstanding theatrical and technical theater student performances throughout San Diego. This year marks the 14th annual awards ceremony.
This past spring, Point Loma High School’s theater program performed the rock musical “Heathers: The Musical.” Based off of the 1988 black comedy “Heathers,” this musical parodies John Hughes’ high school movies and comments on high school romances, queen bee cliques, and teen violence.
Amy Chagnon, director of the production, said that the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, or Parkland shooting, inspired her to put on this production. “Because ‘Heathers’ deals with suicide, teen violence, gun violence, I find it very important to tackle those issues face-forward. We are lucky to have an administration that is willing for us to put on edgier productions if we will learn something from that experience.”
Chagnon, who is also a drama teacher at Point Loma High, was nominated for her direction of this production. She has been the drama teacher and director as well as an English teacher at Point Loma for the past two years.
In a conversation with Chagnon, she said that the enthusiastic students contributed to the success of the show. “A major part of the success of any high school theater production is when the students commit to the production. They really stepped up to the plate, showed up, and made the show a priority.”
And the students did step up to the plate. Fiona Byrne (Class of 2020) won Outstanding Supporting Performance in a Musical for her portrayal of teen alpha Heather Chandler. Byrne attributes her win to the strength of the cast. “I was fortunate to have a super supportive cast around me who made every moment better. They were great scene partners as well as great friends.”
Bethany Baker (Class of 2021), who was nominated in the same category for her performance as one of Heather Chandler’s sidekicks, Heather Duke, agrees with Byrne. “The thing that most contributed to my success in this production was my cast and the energy we all had with each other.”
Ironically, Point Loma High School set out to interpret a musical that focuses on high school drama and cliques; yet in the process, the students created lasting memories and friendships. Chagnon muses that the growth of the tight-knit cast was the most rewarding out of the whole process. “Some of these students had never been in a production in their life and had stage fright. I see that progress in their faces from the first day of rehearsal to closing night. I’ve seen how much confidence they’ve gained and friendships they’ve made in those two to three months. I am proud to have impacted them in that way.”