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Review: MEAN GIRLS at Rochester Broadway Theatre League

Now through July 10th at Rochester's Broadway Theatre League.

If you're looking for an excuse to don your pink and revisit the jungle of high school cliques, politics, and popularity contests, the Rochester Broadway Theatre League has just the show for you. Playing now until July 10th is Mean Girls, Tina Fey's brilliant musical adaption of the 2004 movie starring Rachel McAdams and Lindsay Lohan.

Janis Sarkisian (Adriana Scalice) and Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman) welcome the audience to their "Cautionary Tale": Cady Heron (English Bernhardt) is the new girl at North Shore High School in Chicago, desperate to fit in and find friends. Janis and Damian befriend the new girl, and when The Plastics set their sights on Cady, Janis convinces naive Cady to be their "friend" in order to bring down Queen Bee Regina George (Nadina Hassan)'s reign. Along the way, Cady loses herself, her friends, and her crush, all for the chance to be popular and loved. When dethroned Regina gets revenge by releasing the Burn Book, Cady is brought down and must mend her broken relationships with Janis, Aaron (Adante Carter, Drew Reddington on the night I attended), and even Regina.

I admittedly entered the Auditorium Theatre with low expectations, expecting a baseline of entertainment but not to be overly impressed. After all, the trendline of Broadway over the last 20+ years is a graveyard of screen-to-stage adaptations, and while a very small handful have worked ("Waitress", "The Band's Visit", "Hairspray") most have not ("Shrek", "Frozen", "Spider-Man", "Pretty Woman", etc. etc. etc.). Over the course of the evening I was treated to a masterclass on how to adapt a movie---a wildly popular movie, nonetheless---into a stage musical that honors the source material while adding depth to the characters and themes, flair and excitement to the production, and modernization that helps avoid a dated-feeling story; after all, they mainly communicate through landline phones in the "Mean Girls" movie (you heard me Zoomers).

The "Mean Girls" musical weaves together a 2000's-era story of high school carnage with all the trappings of a show from Broadway's golden era that feels like it could have been written by Rogers and Hammerstein, complete with tap-dancing, huge ensemble dance numbers, kick lines, ballads, and intricate costume changes that could have only been devised in the mind of Tina Fey. Take that already-delicious stew and throw in a production design rife with everything from expansive multimedia backdrops to Lion King-esque animal puppetry, and you'll get a sense of what the "Mean Girls" stage experience is like.

"Mean Girls" the musical pays homage to the iconic movie we elder millennials will forever cherish and is beautifully adapted to the stage and infused with new laughs, incredible dancing, and biting social commentary that will be appreciated by all, not just those of us who attended high school in the early 2000s. It's playing at RBTL's Auditorium Theatre until July 10th.




From This Author - Colin Fleming-Stumpf

Colin Fleming-Stumpf is a lover of all things theatre and performing arts. A native of Rochester, Colin has acted on stages across Western New York and is active in the local theatre community as a... (read more about this author)


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