Review Roundup: Broadway-Bound MEAN GIRLS in Washington, D.C. - What Did the Critics Think?
Cady Heron may have grown up on an African savanna, but nothing prepared her for the wild and vicious ways of her strange new home: suburban Illinois. How will this naïve newbie rise to the top of the popularity pecking order? By taking on The Plastics, a trio of lionized frenemies led by the charming but ruthless Regina George. But, when Cady devises a plan to end Regina's reign, she learns the hard way that you can't cross a Queen Bee without getting stung.
Mean Girls features a book by nine-time Emmy Award winner Tina Fey, based on her screenplay for the Paramount Pictures film; music by three-time Emmy Award winner Jeff Richmond ("30 Rock," "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"); and lyrics by Tony Award nominee Nell Benjamin (LEGALLY BLONDE). Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (THE BOOK OF MORMON, SOMETHING ROTTEN!) directs and choreographs.
Mean Girls runs Tuesday, October 31 thru Sunday, December 3, 2017 at The National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. Mean Girls will open on Broadway this Spring at the August Wilson Theatre (245 West 52nd Street). Previews begin Monday, March 12, 2018 in advance of an official opening night of Sunday, April 8, 2018.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Jennifer Perry, BroadwayWorld: As much as the musical is highly relevant, well-structured, and fun, there are still some areas for potential improvement before the move to the Great White Way. While the peppy score is definite ear candy, and includes such memorable numbers as "Stupid With Love," "Revenge Party," the Act One closer "Justice," and my personal favorite, "Watch This World Burn," there are some missteps. There is some repetitiveness. I am also not quite sure "Whose House Is This?" moves the story along or provides greater emotional insight into the characters, but the rapping section and accompanying choreography is pretty fun. The same can be said for "Sexy." Although Kate Rockwell certainly sells the number to the fullest, it's unclear whether that moment in the show really needs to be musicalized. Likewise, Tina Fey's book could use some trimming here and there. These are all small issues though. The musical is in really, really great shape. I hope this one has great success on Broadway. It has the potential to be an audience favorite.
Paul Harris, Variety: The show is visually spectacular. Set designer Scott Pask and colleagues have fully exploited the opportunities of LED video technology with LED walls that burst with color and motion at every opportunity (kudos to video designers Finn Ross and Adam Young). Sitting in the audience is at times like being in the middle of a cartoon, as kid-friendly scenic designs flow constantly - Africa, high school locales inside and out, private homes and bedrooms, a shopping mall, a Christmas pageant, and even a fast-moving bus.
Peter Marks, The Washington Post: "Mean Girls" does have a stronger spine than a sentimental piece such as "School of Rock": the soul of Fey's script is closer to bruised than bubbly. Which partly explains why the roles of the cynical high school outcasts - Barrett Wilbert Weed's Janis and, especially, Grey Henson's heaven-sent Damian - are so close to the dark core of this show, with its exploration of the cruelties clique-crazed kids can inflict on anyone who dares to be different. Which goes triply for this rage- and social-media-fueled age. But the musical has some shoring up to do, principally in a score with too little melodic variation. There's a redundant quality to some ensemble rock numbers that range from catchy to undistinguished and come one after another: "Revenge Party," "Justice," and at the top of Act II, "Bossed Up."
Jeffrey Walker, DC Theatre Scene: I would be remiss not to mention the lovely and talented Kerry Butler, Broadway ingénue turned leading lady who in Mean Girls has triple duty playing the adult females in Cady's life: her liberal mom, Regina's "cool mom" Mrs. George, and finally the high school teacher Ms. Norbury. Butler gamely shows off her prodigious comic chops in all three roles. (In the movie, Fey memorably played Norbury while her frequent collaborator Amy Poehler played Mrs. George.) Butler also lends her big belt of a voice, a welcome addition to the production.
Check back soon for more reviews as they come in!