Broadway Beyond Louisville Review: MEAN GIRLS at the Aronoff Center
Since it's premiere in 2004, Mean Girls has quickly become one of the most relevant films in recent pop culture history. In many ways it was Tina Fey's breakout and furthered her already rising star at the time. The movie is one of the most quotable in recent memory, only cementing it's place in cinematic history. It's only fitting that it would eventually get a musical adaptation, but who could've guessed that Fey would reprise her role in the the creative team to adapt her own screen play into the book of this 2017 smash hit musical.
The show opened on Broadway in 2018 to positive reviews. It was an instant hit as it strikes a chord with those who originally adored the film, and those who have discovered it over time. Here we are almost two years later, and with the broadway company still going strong, a touring production of the show hit the road earlier this fall, and has just sat down for a two week run in Cincinnati.
The cast is absolutely wonderful. Danielle Wade leads the show as Cady Haron, a transfer student from Africa who is forced to adapt to a new habitat in the suburbs of Chicago. Throughout the course of the show she try's to figure out just where she belongs, and ultimately crosses paths with the most popular girls in school, The Plastics.
Wade as Cady is absolutely sensational. Her voice has soaring range and her comedic beats are fantastic. She truly feels like the heart of the show. Opposite her is newcomer Mariah Rose Faith as Regina George, the leader of The Plastics. Faith is wonderful as the stereotypical Queen Bee, whenever she is onstage attention is demanded and it's paid. Supporting we have Mary Kate Morrissey as Janis, Eric Huffman as Damian, Megan Masako Haley as Gretchen, and Jonalyn Saxer as Karen. Morrissey's Janis is tough as nails and presents a strong front, this is confirmed with her rousing second act anthem of female empowerment. She is equally matched by Huffman as Damian. He radiates joy and sass as he effortlessly dances across the show. As our other two Plastics, Saxer is a clear scene stealer. Her Karen Smith is the kind of lovable dumb person that you can't help but root for, her delivery and comedic timing might be the best in this company. Haley as great here as Gretchen as well. Arguably the least flashy role, but she really shines in her ballad of longing to be accepted by her peers, "What's Wrong With Me".
The set is basically a series of giant screens, and for the most part they really work well and are extremely versatile. The choreography is sharp and energetic in true Casey Nicholaw fashion, the cast bursts off the stage doing his moves.
I honestly can't recommend this show enough. Even if you might not know the movie (how is that possible) this is a modern musical comedy that is worth seeing. You can feel Fey's heart in the material, and I honestly don't think anyone else could've made this show work like she did. The run is brief, so get to the Aronoff Center before it's too late, because on that stage, they're undoubtedly making "Fetch" happen.
Now - November 17th
Procter & Gamble Hall - Aronoff Center For The Arts
650 Walnut Street Cincinnati, OH 45202.