While it wasn’t a Wednesday, on Tuesday night I saw “Mean Girls,” and I wore pink. In fact, most of the audience paid homage to the movie’s central theme of wearing some shade of the bright color.
I always cringed when this glorified mean girl movie came out during my formative high school years, as so many snotty classmates had idolized these characters circa 2004, so I hoped the Broadway show might change my mind. And, as the story states, everyone knows a Regina George or has had one in their life-the self-absorbed mean girl that relentlessly bullies another girl that she is jealous and insecure of.
Homeschooled Cady Heron moves from Kenya to Chicago and has a major culture shock. Her new school is rife with social cliques that are not so welcoming to the new girl. At first embraced by the popular crowd, she soon learns what the backstabbing, toxic queen bee Regina is capable of.
The way I saw it, this teen musical has been done before, so many times. From “Grease,” to “The Heathers,” to “Footloose,” and even “High School Musical,” the popular kids ruling the school trope might appear to be exhausted and cliched. “Mean Girls” has completely revamped it for a new era, and it is wild.
The show’s production value is top notch. A high-octane, energy packed ensemble keeps you completely glued to your seat with each company number. It’s flashy and fun, never missing a beat with its fast-paced set transitions and showstoppers such as “Apex Predator,” “The Plastics,” “Stop,” and “Watch the World Burn.”
There’s even some clever parallels drawn between the past life Cady once lived in Africa, versus the new, territorial predator she must now confront in the school halls.
A modern musical accented with cutting edge technology and digitalized screen backgrounds, “Mean Girls,” with the book by Tina Fey, the music by Jeff Richmond, and lyrics by Nell Benjamin, (“Legally Blonde,) takes musical theatre to a whole new level. Choreography by Casey Nicholaw is polished and on pointe,from sharp hip hop dance moves to perfectly timed rotating desks as the action weaves in and out.
Canadian native Danielle Wade plays Cady with the balance of naiveite and the transformative quality of evolving into the popular girl she once loathed. Nadina Hassan playing the role of the usually blonde alpha female Regina gave it a whole new edge with her cool and cruel demeanor and mean girl persona. Her posse of friends in the popular clique,The Plastics, made for entertaining and comedic performances as Gretchen (Megan Masako Haley,) and the not so bright Karen (Jonalyn Saxer).
Another huge standout of the evening was Mary Kate Morrissey in the role of the misfit artist character Janis, who opens the show. Morrissey’s rock pop powerhouse vocals were dynamic, and she commanded the stage with a rockin’, edgy personality. Morrisey easily had one of the best voices of the night.
An advisory for parents-there are a lot of funny, candid moments but they are full of crude humor, blatant sexual references and obscenities. Hands down, the raunchy content is not suitable for children.
“Mean Girls” carries an important message of bringing awareness to bullying, and since I saw the show on International Woman’s Day, it was even more critical to shine a light on this pervasive topic that seems to infiltrate every generation. People, whether you like them or not, are all human and deserve to shine in their own way. Let them be who they are. And making fun of people is a bad look. It’s so not fetch.
“Mean Girls,” plays through March 13th at the Orpheum Theatre. Masks are required inside the Orpheum Theatre at all times