The Mean Girls musical currently playing at the Orpheum theater through October 13th has taken the instantly popular High School comedy from 2004 and moved it forward into the present day. It makes the story feel fresh, even though the plot and many of the jokes from the movie remain and are delivered word for word. It leaves nothing for fans of the movie to be disappointed by and the score has a couple of musical numbers that are a lot of fun and are sure to please the more classical musical theater lover.
Although the music by Jeff Richmond is fun and helps to move the story along (the musical times in at almost an hour longer than the movie - but never feels like it is dragging). The true joy of the show comes from the sharp witty script by Tina Fey, and lyrics by Neil Benjamin.
The choreography by Casey Nicholaw (also the director) is very creative and a lot of fun to watch. It features everything from a dance number heavily featuring red plastic lunch trays to depicting the outward traits of high school students as animals on an African Savannah. As much as I love a good old fashion tap dance number (which Mean Girls also delivers), it is great fun to see other ways to depict places and experience through dance.
Although the show times in at 2 hours and 30 minutes, the show moves fast. Beyond the great writing this is thanks in large part to scenic (Scott Pask), Lighting (Kenneth Posner) and Video (Finn Ross and Adam Young) design. The entire backdrop of the stage is made up of screens onto which are projected the cafeteria, classrooms, home interiors that lead to very speedy scene changes. But the screens are also used to show pages of the burn book and social media messages. It is reminiscent of the scenic design of Dear Evan Hansen but takes it to another level.
Even with the witty writing and the great design the show would be nothing without the top notch cast. The cast is lead by Danielle Wade as Cady Heron, she wonderfully portrays Cady's transformation from a nobody to a Mean Girl and back again. The plastics are portrayed by Mariah Rose Faith as Regina George, Megan Masako Haley as Gretchen Wieners and Jonalyn Saxer as Karen Smith. They know just how to thread the needle of playing a character that you would be terrified of in high school, while at the same time empathizing with as an audience member. Mary Kate Morrissey as Janis Sarkisan and Eric Huffman as Damian Hubbard had some of my favorite musical numbers and also gave fantastic comedic performances. I would be more than happen to see a Mean Girls 2: The Janis and Damian Show.
Mean Girls (the musical) is a super fun show. Although it shows how horrible high school can be with just as much humor of the movie, it highlights even more the moral of the story. We are all people with our own feeling and insecurities. It is not only in high school where people are put on a pedestal to a point where you start to forget the humanity behind the idol (whether loved or hated). It is a very important lesson to hear regardless of how old or young you are. The show is playing at the Orpheum Theater through October 13th. Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.
*Photo by Joan Marcus