Review: Mean Girls Is Fetch!

Mean Girls, the Musical
Paramount Theatre
Through November 21, 2022 get tickets and info here

If any of you remember high school, you’ll remember the cliques, the social groups, the peer pressure and the social order that dictates who associates with whom. This is the setting for the new musical at the Paramount Theatre, Mean Girls. Based on the movie by the same name, Mean Girls dissects the High School genre and exposes the caste system that has been set up since the beginning of time. The difference is that this is a musical satire that is absolutely ‘Fetch!’

Cady Heron is the new student at a Chicago high school, after previously being home-educated in Africa. Unfamiliar with the social system of the modern high school, Cady is taken under the wings of two ‘outcasts,’ Janice and Damien, who introduce her to the high school cliques. Above all the rest are Regina George, Gretchen Wieners, and Karen Smith – otherwise known as “The Plastics,” with Regina being “The Queen Bee.”  Cady is invited to sit with The Plastics at lunch, and immediately Janice and Damien instruct her to infiltrate the clique and bring them down. While Cady participates willingly at first, she meets Aaron Samuels and falls for him. Aaron is Regina’s ex boyfriend and The Queen Bee doesn’t like to share. After Cady witnesses Regina sabotaging her chances with Aaron, Cady decides that she is 100% going to bring down The Plastics. Unfortunately, Cady has already started to become on of them.

Mean Girls

The three Plastics with Cady Heron (Danielle Wade)

The cast all does a good job and a special ‘thank you’ goes to the casting director who decided to NOT cast doppelgängers of the movie cast – exception to the rule is ‘Ms. Norbury’ played by April Josephine, who does show a purposeful resemblance to Tina Fey.

The two ‘outcasts’ that take Cady under their wing, Damien (Eric Huffman) and Janice (Mary Kate Morrissey), also act as narrators for the musical. Huffman adds comedy with almost everything he does. His stage disposition is lighthearted and bubbly as the character dictates. He presents that character, that is labeled “too gay to function,” without going into offensive stereotypes or tropes. His character is meant to add humor and he does it well in every scene he appears. Mary Kate Morrissey is a force to be reckoned with on stage! Her voice is powerful and she can make the rafters ring with her powerful instrument. Whether she is singing about her loathing of Regina George (the song “Apex Predator”) or her declaration of being herself (the song “I’d Rather Be Me”), her voice is strong, clear, and she uses it for her best advantage – and of the audience’s as well.

Cady Heron (played by Danielle Wade) is the African home-school student that tries to navigate her way through public High School. Ms. Wade has a good voice that’s sweet and pleasant to hear. Her profession of being “Stupid With Love” is a cute bouncy song, and Ms. Wade uses her voice perfectly to fit the music. The character is presented as charming, if not a little naive, which fits for the her transformation from being sweet to Plastic. Unfortunately, the audience doesn’t get taken along for this transformation as much as we should. If the movie wasn’t so popular, the journey would be nothing but lackluster.

“The Plastics” are the major characters of this musical without a doubt. Gretchen Wieners (played by Megan Masako Haley) and Karen Smith (Jonalyn Saxer) are the ‘workers’ buzzing around ‘Queen Bee’ Regina George (played by Nadine Hassan). The roles of the two sidekicks are brought out more than they were in the film, giving them more depth to their characters. Ms. Haley brings a comical insecurity to her role of Gretchen especially in the song, “What’s Wrong With Me” where she wonders why she condemns herself to follow someone else. Ms. Saxer as Karen (“the stupidest person alive”) is nothing but a pure comical delight to watch. She plays the role so deliciously vapid that it is nothing but genius. She shines in the song “Sexy” where she is expressing the idea that any costume can be sexy on Halloween (such as “sexy Rosa Parks” or “sexy Eleanor Roosevelt”). Ms. Hassan plays Regina with the perfect air of superiority that the character requires. She puts a certain edge into the song “World Burn,” where she expresses her thoughts on getting revenge. There’s a direct, subtle attitude that she unleashes throughout the musical and it adds an extra layer to the character. Regina is given more humanity that she has in the original film, and it helps to smooth out some of the rough edges that were left behind.

The choreography is energetic and fun to watch. The scene changes were all done smoothly. As the audience takes their seats pages of “the Burn Book” are being projected so all can see and emerge themselves into the show. It definitely sets ‘the stage’ (pun-intended) for the high school antics that are about to take place. There are subtle changes from the film that are noticed and add up to make the stage production enjoyable.

Mean Girls is fun, fluff with a surprising subtle message thrown in for good measure. Get a ticket (remember to show proof of vaccination – it will be checked!!) and sit down to enjoy. Is it going to change your life? Probably not. But it will give you a bit of escapism and let’s get real; it’s a musical, and that’s what it here to do!

Mean Girls the musical is written by Tina Fey, with music by Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin. Based (in part) on the book “Queen Bees and Wannabees” by Rosalind Wiseman, as well as Tina Fey’s personal experiences. The musical opened on Broadway on March 12, 2018. Despite being forced to close due to COVID on March 11, 2020, the musical was nominated for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score, and Best Actress in a Musical without a single win. The musical is based on the 2004 movie (also written by Tina Fey). Tina Fey announced that a movie version of the musical is in production as of January 23, 2020.

Mean Girls, the Musical
Paramount Theatre
Through November 21, 2022 get tickets and info here

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at: http://www.EricAndrewsKatz.com

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