‘Dead Serious About Life’ to show at Mason Middle School
Andrea Hefferan | Staff Writer
Forget High School Musical–now there is a musical that truly shows what goes on during the high school years.
Dead Serious About Life is a musical put on by Christian high schoolers who are part of the nonprofit Mishpachah, Inc. On March second and third, they are coming to Mason Middle School to bring their message to Mason students. Sophomore Dominic Bennett, who plays the character Brad, said the musical starts out with a typical high school party but delves deeper into personal issues the characters have.
“The musical is about these sixteen main characters who throw a party after Spencer’s parents leave to go somewhere over the weekend,” Bennett said. “It goes through what everyone is going through in their lives. Then Andrew, Spencer’s best friend, ends up committing suicide at the party. And it goes on from there; how you get help after that.”
Each character in the musical has a different challenge in their life and together cover almost everything that one could encounter in high school.
“I think 95% of the kids in this school can relate to something in the play or one of the characters because of everything that’s going on,” Bennett said. “It’s very diverse: there’s an alcoholic, there’s a drug addict, there’s somebody who’s having issues in school, there’s somebody that smokes weed. Things that every kid goes through in my opinion.”
The problems the characters deal with can be seen affecting people at Mason High School (MHS), according to senior Jack Davis, who plays Spencer in the musical. However, the musical allows him to reach a much a wider audience than simply those he knows at MHS.
“I’ve had so many friends who struggle with a lot of issues in the show like cutting, suicide,” Davis said. “I’m only able to help so many people just by talking to them, but this is a way I can reach kids–I may never even meet them, but I can change somebody’s life through this.”
Davis makes a phone call in character in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming show.
One of the heavier subjects Dead Serious About Life tackles is suicide. This is particularly poignant for MHS because of the many suicides that have occurred over the years. Davis hopes that having this as a central issue of the musical will allow people open up and discuss it rather than distance themselves from it.
(Suicide) is a very serious issue but nobody wants to talk about it because you say the word ‘suicide’ and people get uncomfortable,” Davis said. “They don’t want anything to do with that. Even after the suicide this year we had the discussion in homeroom. Nobody talked, at least in my class. When you put it up on stage and make it real for somebody, you’re more likely to encourage them to actually talk about it; get some help for it instead of just shrinking back into the background and letting it happen like we traditionally do with these sorts of issues.”
These powerful topics portrayed onstage greatly affect the audience. It touches many as they see their lives or those of others reflected back at them.
“Every show, you see people visibly upset and crying after the show,” Davis said. “A girl came and asked for a hug and she came away crying; just lots of things like that where you really see that it shook them emotionally.”
The show does not end when the curtain closes. When the production is over, the cast talks about their own struggles and gives the audience the opportunity to do the same. Davis said that this brings the experience full circle.
“After the show we have a room called the Listening Room. It’s a staff of volunteers; there are several psychological professionals,” Davis said. “And the room is just full of people who listen. We invite (the audience) back and they can talk about anything whether it’s something as simple as a friend is shutting them out or something as serious as suicidal thoughts or actions. We really do impact these people in a way that not very many other things can.”
The choice of a musical as a medium is one that maximizes the impact of the message. People seeing the situations happen right in front of them makes it a lot more personal and close to home.
“When you make it real for somebody, when you put it up on stage and everyone can see that it is happening, and you can put yourself in those characters’ shoes, it has a greater gravity,” Davis said. “You read in the news all the time all of these terrible things that are happening so much that we’ve almost become desensitized to them. But when you see it unfold on that stage, it becomes much more real and it becomes something that you really have to be aware of and just focus on.”
The majority of high schoolers will encounter at least one of the issues in the musical and many more already have. Davis encourages all MHS students to go to the March productions, as what is represented in Dead Serious About Life affects everyone, may it be directly or not.
“Even if you may not struggle with all of the issues in the show, they are all around us,” Davis said. “Really having an open and understanding mind in regards to these things can really help people deal with them. Maybe you know somebody that has struggled with suicidal thoughts or actions and you know that you can’t just ignore it. Or maybe you yourself struggle with some of these things and you know you need to act. It moves you in a way that very few other things can.”
Photos by Christy Ballard.