It has been a little more than five years since a Colorado couple tricked the world into believing their small child was trapped in a silver weather balloon floating out of control over the Rocky Mountain sky.
Tonight, “Balloon Boy: The Musical” opens at a Colorado high school.
The play, based on the Oct. 15, 2009, stunt in Fort Collins when Richard and Mayumi Heene claimed their 6-year-old son, Falcon, was inside a large gas balloon floating away, will open this weekend at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colo.
“It’s new. It’s contemporary. It’s fresh,” said Gwendolyn Lukas-Doctor, the drama department director at Monarch.
Lukas-Doctor decided to put on the show at her school after she met playwright Billy Recce, 16, at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Neb., where his play received accolades, she said.
Recce, who began working on the show when he was 11, told Fox 31 Denver that the musical is a comedy that is neither for nor against the Heenes, but a commentary on a celebrity-obsessed society.
Through song, dance and, yes, even a balloon prop the same size as the notorious original, the student-written play will revolve around the hoax and the events that followed. The show has a cast of 40, with 30 working on technical aspects.
Solomon Abell, 17, who plays father Richard Heene, said he studied numerous interviews of the dad to get the nuance of the character.
“I don’t want to play him as a villain,” Abell said. “In a way, I feel bad for him. He was obsessed with being a celebrity because of the society we now live in."
While based on the Balloon Boy events, the show does incorporate fictional plot points, including a happy ending, Abell said. In reality, Richard Heene spent 90 days in jail after he pleaded guilty to a felony count of attempting to influence a public servant. Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting to authorities. She did not serve jail time.
Attempts to reach Richard Heene for comment were unsuccessful.