In 2004, the Tina Fey-written Mean Girls film delighted audiences with its pointed take on high school life, cliques, friendships, first loves, and of course, mean girls.
In 2017, the film was reworked as a musical, and debuted on Broadway in April 2019. It was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, sent on the road, and last night, I got to experience the production in person on Opening Night at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
After a wonderful opening number setting up the events of the musical, we meet sixteen-year-old homeschooled Cady Heron and her zoologist parents Betsy and Chip Heron. After a twelve-year research trip in Africa, mom gets a new job in the Chicago-area, forcing a move.
Her first day of public school is frustrating, but on the second, she meets and befriends Janis Ian and Damian Leigh who educate her on the various cliques in school, including the dreaded “Plastics.”
The “Plastics”, led by queen bee Regina George, take an interest in Cady, and what follows is a story of subterfuge, betrayal, revenge, love, and changes.
You know…high school life.
Honestly, I was surprised and blown away by how fun Mean Girls is as a musical. It was brash and witty; relevant and reminiscent.
The performances are what made me love this production so much. The actors really embodied these characters (with some playing multiple secondary characters), and drew me into the story.
Even though I’d seen the movie, I felt like I was experiencing this story fresh through new eyes.
I have to give special kudos to the Queen Bee herself, Mariah Rose Faith, who sang her heart out as Regina, and imbued her vocals with such emotion.
Also a standout was Eric Huffman as Cady’s new very gay BFF Damian Hubbard. He looked like he was having way too much fun with his character.
Kudos also to the stage design (and its creators), which used a full stage backing video set up to change backdrops with ease. It was Africa, high school, a mall, and even Regina’s ultra-pink bedroom. I haven’t seen one used to such great effect on stage before, and it really added to bringing the story to life.
But don’t just take my word for it. Mean Girls is at the Dr. Phillips Center through this Sunday, March 1, 2020. Great seats are still available so hit up DrPhillipsCenter.org to find yours. Just don’t bring the kids…this musical can get a little bawdy.
[Disclaimer: I was provided media tickets in exchage for pre-show promotion and this review. As always, my opinions are honest, and my own.]
[Photo Credits: © 2019 Joan Marcus]
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