South County High School
"You have no right to call me honey, or to tell me to calm down!" Take a seat (or take a stand), because Lake Braddock's production of "The Heidi Chronicles" shows sexuality, feminism, and the infamous events that happened during these groovy times, covered with phenomenal pop culture references and amazing costuming, suitable for anyone willing to take a seat and empathize.
This play followed the life of bright and headstrong feminist Heidi, from the 1960s - the 1980s, depicting struggles with women and society, through one impeccable setlist played by a live band, creative and period-accurate costumes and set, and characters you will love, hate, and burst out laughing at all at the same time. With Peter (Linus Brannam) being a fan favorite, Scoop (Josh Reiff) making you want to kick and dance with him both at once, and Heidi (Liesl Winternitz) making you sit up a little straighter, the complexity of the growing chemistry between the three kept audience members never wanting the 2 hours 45-minute long play to end.
Winternitz', Reiff's, Brannam's, and many more outstanding supporting and featured roles showed the importance, risk, beauty, difficulty, and complexity of not only being a woman but of friendship. Heidi was constantly told one thing about her femininity but was smart and strong enough to fight that notion for 30 years straight. You'll become Heidi's biggest fan and become so proud of all she comes to be and do with her life by the time the show wraps up, so be ready to cry, laugh, sigh, and beam. The fallings in and out of love, each time in a different way throughout the production, gave a much larger appreciation for the hardship that comes with growing up with the people you admire.
Not only is the storyline and presentation perfect, but the kids who made it all happen are also just as amazing. There was something significant about how these high-school actors could switch on and off being adults and teens while being able to gradually mature before our very eyes. There was a unique and ingenious usage of set design, efficiency, lighting, and those geometrical lights fit perfectly with every period. The costumes, by Angelia DeJesus, are not only aesthetically pleasing but were precisely the fashion and styles that were worn at each time period. The live student-constructed band was so on point at every cue, one could completely forget they were high school students doing this all and not a professionally trained cast and crew.
When all is said and done, this masterpiece of a show, from the set designs to the moving acting, sent the audience off with a brand-new perspective on life, love, and whether or not the term "jackass" can be used enough. If you love to learn, to laugh, or to shout from the rooftops what you truly believe, this is the show for you.
Langley High School
The changing roles of women during the mid to late 20th century sounds more like a chapter description of an AP US History textbook rather than the plot of Lake Braddock Secondary School's fall production of "The Heidi Chronicles". However, Lake Braddock Secondary School combined live music, witty banter, and lovable chemistry to balance the heavy, tough topics of feminism and societal roles and provided a comedic, intriguing, and heartfelt show for all ages.
"The Heidi Chronicles", written by Wendy Wasserstein, followed the life of Heidi Holland as she grows up from the 1960s-1980s. Set in three subsequent decades, the show tackled the changing roles of women throughout the 20th century as women throughout the play conformed and broke traditional gender roles.
Liesl Winternitz stole the show as Heidi Holland. She masterfully captured the mature nature of Heidi Holland. She spoke with utmost sincerity in a gut-wrenching scene, delivering a monologue about how she felt isolated and alone from other women who had all settled down and started families. Winternitz's looks of discomfort and anger as she was trapped between Peter and Scoop while they stole her spotlight on a news segment artfully portrayed Heidi's feelings without uttering a single word.
Linus Brannam dazzled as Peter Patrone. In most of the show, Brannam commanded the stage, being cheeky and hilarious as he delivered quick one-liners. However, in one of the later scenes, Brannam showcased his versatility as Peter Patrone during the Christmas scene in the 1980s. Brannam sighed as he forcefully dropped crates of donations, upset over Heidi leaving their friendship to start anew during the age of AIDs.
Other notable performers included Josh Reiff as Scoop Rosenbaum and Lake Rusch as Susan Johnston. Reiff effectively captured Heidi's love interest's masochistic and narcissistic nature while Rusch transformed from a passionate fist-pumping feminist advocate in her college years to seeing feminism as a dying trend by the 1980s.
The music performed by the live band, Vicious Dumpling, brought the show to life. From '60s jams to classic Christmas crooners, the band expertly transitioned the audience through the various decades. Additionally, the music helped complement the play. In the basement scene, "Respect" by Aretha Franklin blasted and soared as the women high-fived and felt empowered to change the world. In contrast, "Please Come Home for Christmas" ached with sadness and regret as Peter and Heidi conversed in a hospital on Christmas Eve as they come to terms with the harsh realities of the 1980s.
Another feature to commend was the era-specific props and costumes managed by Lindy Nelson and Angelia DeJesus, respectively. As Heidi taught in her Columbia classroom, the vintage slide projector was physically managed by an actor, clicking the correct slides in place. Another ambitious choice in a post-COVID world was the presence of real food and drink. Actors poured real coffee, crunched real chips, and there was even a hint of real fish aroma in the dinner scene.
Meanwhile, the costumes helped transform the teenage actors into middle-aged baby boomers by the end of the two-hour show. Heidi started the show as a teenager wearing a bright, bold blue dress but by the second act dressed in muted plaid colors. Even the live band wore different costumes throughout the show to fit each era's specific fashion trends.
Even though "The Heidi Chronicles" began in a stuffy Columbia classroom in a droopy art history class, Lake Braddock Secondary School brought life, laughs, and lessons to the tough topics of women's rights, feminism in the 20th century, and societal norms.