The 80’s classic, Heathers, will be hitting The Laycock Theatre in February, and NMA has one of our very own talented students taking out the role of female protagonist, Veronica Sawyer. Mikayla Burnham has been performing in musicals since the prime age of five years old. She’s now tackling her biggest and most diverse role yet in Heathers the Musical. We caught up with Mikayla to chat about Heathers and her experience with musical theatre.
Can you tell us a bit about Heathers? What is the show about and who are you playing?
Heathers is based off of the 1989 cult-classic film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. I play Veronica Sawyer, who is in the most popular clique at school: the Heathers. The Heathers are three cruel girls who all are named Heather and rule the school with an iron fist. When Veronica falls in love with troubled, mysterious JD and accidentally murders queen bee Heather Chandler, JD convinces Veronica to stage it as a suicide. After Heather Chandler’s “suicide” brings more freedom and happiness to the school society, JD is convinced that murdering the cruel and cool kids is the only way to destroy the school hierarchy and Veronica must find a way to stop his onslaught. It’s outrageous, hilarious and not for the faint of heart!
What sparked your love for musical theatre?
I grew up watching musicals like The Sound of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins, and I think it became a part of me from that. I just adored those films when I was younger and always wanted to be in one myself. I definitely looked up to Julie Andrews.
How long have you been doing musicals and how many have you been in?
I’ve been singing songs from musicals and performing them at showcases since I was around five years old, but I didn’t really start doing big musicals until about two years ago. I have since done Beauty and the Beast, Seussical and now Heathers.
Have music lessons at NMA helped with your performance?
Absolutely! My teacher Kate is wonderful and has been so supportive of me during the audition process. She prepared me so much beforehand and helped me find my audition song, which I think was perfect for the role of Veronica. Kate has always been so supportive of me and even came to see me in my last show, Seussical.
What do you hope to get out of your performance with Heathers?
I’d love for it to help me climb further and hopefully begin performing in some Sydney shows. I’m so keen to branch out and begin singing and acting professionally. It’s also an incredibly different role to anything I’ve done in the past which gives me some great experience!
Do you have any tips for anyone aspiring for a career in musical theatre?
My main thing I always say is don’t be afraid. Just let loose and totally don’t be afraid to fully become the character you’re playing. Always stretch yourself and don’t hold back! So many kids worry endlessly about how they look on stage or what people will think of them, and honestly the more you completely give yourself over to the performance the more people will be raving about it afterwards. I know sometimes it’s not easy and nerves kick in, but after doing it once you’ll want to do it a million times.