The movie with a cult following, “Mean Girls,” is taking the route of other film favorites like “Legally Blonde” and “Waitress.” Tina Fey’s 2004 hit is hitting the stage in musical form, and Washington, D.C., was picked for a pre-Broadway run.
The show finished its D.C. run Dec. 3, receiving mostly positive reviews. Fans of the movie will be pleased to learn that the stage version has kept many of the signature lines (examples: “She doesn’t even go here!” and “I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom!”). However, the plot has been updated in the 13-plus years since the film’s release — texting and selfies abound and there’s even an iPhone joke thrown in.
“Mean Girls” tells the tale of Cady Heron, a girl who was homeschooled in Africa and moves to suburban Chicago with her academic parents. As she navigates the world of high school, hilarity and lots of cattiness ensue.
The set design follows the current trend of modern musicals, using a constantly changing video background with “burn book” insults, most of which are too inappropriate (however funny) to repeat here. Throw in a bunch of rolling desks and an energetic choir of singers and dancers and you’ve got an entertaining two and a half hours.
Cafeteria trays aren’t just for sledding anymore — the show utilizes them for a few numbers, making for a dazzlingly fun time. The costumes mostly pay homage to the movie and include Cady’s friend Damian’s hoodie and sunglasses and provocative holiday-themed outfits for a winter talent show scene. They are simple; I even spotted a shirt I own from Old Navy on the actress who plays Cady.
The standouts of the show are the Plastics, the nickname for the trio of girls who rule the school. Queen bee Regina George is played by Taylor Louderman, who many may recognize as Wendy from NBC’s “Peter Pan Live.” She is a scarier, more vindictive version of the original Regina George, played by Rachel McAdams.
Regina’s minions, played by Ashley Park (Gretchen) and Kate Rockwell (Karen), are hysterical, with memorable one-liners. Erika Henningsen, who plays Cady Heron, is actually more believable than Lindsay Lohan’s original character. She brings a sense of innocence and optimism Lohan never really had, even before her wild-child, post-“Mean Girls” phase.
The two that perhaps steal the show, though, are Barrett Wilbert Weed’s Janis and Grey Henson’s Damian. Weed sounds just like the original Janis in the movie and her husky alto voice soars through all her solos. Henson’s Damian had many in the audience wiping tears from their eyes — from laughter, that is.
The only aspect of the show that could use some tweaking are the songs. Though composer Jeff Richmond, Fey’s husband, and lyricist Nell Benjamin are both very accomplished and talented, most audience members won’t leave singing the songs or humming the melodies. All that aside, let’s answer the question, Can Tina Fey write a musical? The answer most definitely is yes — and it’s so fetch, too.
Broadway previews begin March 12.