Feeling Heartless? Transforming a Story into Art
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts was just a girl who wanted to fall in love and open a bakery shop. But, that life is unthinkable for a girl who will one day be queen. This is the premise behind the book titled Heartless by Marissa Meyer.
When a group of junior high school theater and music students read this book four years ago, they decided that they wanted to create a musical based on its story. That hope and the subsequent work that went into the project came to fruition on April 22 as students performed “Heartless the Musical” at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville, Utah.
Selfie of the cast taken during an ensemble rehearsal.
“We are a group of high school students from Holladay, Utah. We wrote this as a passion project in junior high. We loved the book and thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be fun to do?’ We’re all theater kids. There’s an interview with her in the back of the book and she said she would like this story to be on the stage,” said Eleanor Boam, executive producer and one of the four lead actors in the show. “When you’re 12 and 13, nobody can tell you, ‘You can’t do that.’”
The group sent the script to author Marissa Meyer and she loved it. “That gave us the final push,” Boam said. “Heartless is the original story of the queen in Alice in Wonderland. It is a tragic love story. It does not have a happy ending. We get to make people cry, which is surprisingly rewarding in theater. It’s evoking emotion.”
Ellie England in one of her Cath costumes
Boam said that the story is one with a lot of passion and the best way to get that emotion expressed is with music. “We’re all very musical people so it’s natural for us,” she said.
Since they received the go-ahead from Meyer, the group of Heartless fans has worked to write lyrics, compose, and transform the story into a live dramatic production.
The four leads – Eleanor Boam, Heidi Thomas, Isabel Wilson and Ellie England, will be performing as part of a cast of 19. There are about 45 people involved in the production, including cast, crew, musicians, makeup artists and set designers. While the show will be performed at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville, the group is not affiliated with any one theater or group. “We set this up completely independently,” Boam said.
Heidi Thomas (far left) helping a group of actors run lines
The core group began with about six people, according to Boam. After receiving permission to write the musical, they held auditions. “Then, some friends began to offer services. For example, a friend helps design sets and some are makeup artists. We are taking help from anybody who is a student. It is completely done by youth,” she said.
Two live performances were held on April 22 at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. Heartless author Marissa Meyer signed books between shows. Ten hours after tickets went on sale, the shows were completely sold out. However, there will be a virtual showing as well, held on May 14 at 6:30 p.m.
“We have a large number of international fans and Marissa has a large international fan base,” Boam said. That is one reason that the group decided to have a live watch party virtual showing.
The group of kids who have written, composed, practiced, built and put so much work into this show, all for the love of a book and the arts, all attend Olympus High School and Olympus Junior High School in Holladay. They are looking into extending their run of the show in other venues.
Costume rack done by Isabel Wilson
“We have talked a lot as a team about what we’re going to do next. We’d like to continue with what we’re doing and maybe do it professionally some day or take this experience and encourage others do something like it,” Boam said.
For more information about the virtual showing, go to heartlessthemusical.com. Also, follow @heartless.musical on Instagram.
Laura Giles is a lover of all things art, a first-grade teacher in Alpine School District, a writer for the Daily Herald newspaper, an Arts Leadership Academy graduate and has earned the Arts Integration Endorsement from Brigham Young University. She can be reached at LauraCGiles@gmail.com.