Review: MEAN GIRLS at Jacksonville Center For The Performing Arts

The production runs now through April 30th.

By: Apr. 28, 2023
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Review: MEAN GIRLS at Jacksonville Center For The Performing Arts
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Mean Girls is sitting with Jacksonville this week! Mean Girls is written by Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond, and Nell Benjamin based on the 2004 movie of the same name, also by Tina Fey! The audience follows the story of Cady Heron (English Bernhardt), the new student at Northshore High School. Cady learns that high school is just like the jungles of Africa from which she came. She "Meets the Plastics" the top of the high school hierarchy. However, when Cady learns how cruel the queen bee, Regina George (Nadina Hassan), can be she and her new friends Janice Sarkisian (Lindsay Heather Pearce) and Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman) create a "Revenge Party" to bring Regina George down. The audience observes each characters' growth, just as we all did through high school.

The protagonist, Cady Heron (English Bernhardt), did a fantastic job stepping into this role. The audience observes an optimistic new girl starting in "It Roars" as she moves from Africa to join the new jungle of high school. By the end of Act 1, the audience observes Bernhardt as the new "Apex Predator" in "Fearless" as she took over the position previously owned by Regina George (Nadina Hassan). Then the audience sees true growth in "I See Stars" as Cady (Bernhardt) realizes the importance of being your own person, being kind, and enjoying the important things in life. Just a little side note, I saw the first national tour of If/Then twice in which Bernhardt was part of the ensemble. It brought me great joy to see her go from a talented member of the ensemble to the protagonist of a popular musical!

The plastics were the typical Mean Girls we all recognized from the movie, and life. Regina George (Nadina Hassan) had the presence that Rachel McAdams originated in 2004. The way Hassan introduces the character in "Meet the Plastics" saying "My name is Regina George, and I am a massive deal. Fear me, love me, stand, and stare at me" proves she knows her place in the high school hierarchy. Gretchen Wieners (Mary Beth Donahoe) played Regina George's best friend. However, the audience observes the true hurt that Regina causes through Donahoe's performance, specifically "What's Wrong with Me?" The last of the plastics is Karen Smith (Morgan Ashley Bryant). Bryant's performance in "Sexy" truly displayed her vocal talent and comedic timing.

The two artsy outsiders, Janis Sarkisian (Lindsay Heather Pearce) and Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman) help Cady (Bernhardt) navigate through the jungle of high school. They are also more or less the narrators in the beginning and end of the musical. It is very apparent to the audience that Pearce and Huffman have great friendship chemistry. Pearce has an incredible voice that was excellently displayed in "Apex Predator" and "I'd Rather Be Me." Huffman does an excellent job as the over-the-top arts kid in all his Liza Minelli and Judy Garland t-shirts, and the tap numbers he breaks into as he is teaching Cady (Bernhardt).

The attention to detail in this show is impressive. I loved when the theatre kids were introduced in "Where Do You Belong?" as they all stand wearing popular musical t-shirts, like Wicked and Hamilton. I also loved the electronic screens that change the scenes and display social media posts about some of the characters, which gave me Dear Evan Hansen vibes.

Mean Girls is such a nostalgic treat for everyone who enjoyed the movie, but also those who may have been missing out on the iconic movie. Mean Girls will be here now through April 30th.


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