BWW Review: MEAN GIRLS Tries to Make Fetch Happen in Pittsburgh
Get in loser; we're going to the Benedum!
Mean Girls, the Broadway musical based off the 2004 movie of the same name, has arrived in Pittsburgh for the week and is tickling the town pink with its comedy and tribute to the movie.
A cult classic, Mean Girls has been offering unforgettable quotes and laughs for the last 15 years. Written by Tina Fey, the movie follows Cady Heron, a student who recently transfers to North Shore High School after being home schooled in Africa her entire life. She struggles to adapt to high school's society, but she eventually finds herself befriending and becoming a Plastic - one of the queen bees of the junior class.
As Cady works from within to take down Regina George - the head of the group - she loses herself in the makeup and looks, sucked in by toxic gossip and the need to be accepted. It takes her losing everything before she realizes what she has and what's important to her.
You may be wondering why I spent the last two paragraphs summarizing the movie in a review for the musical; well, the musical is almost impossible to disassociate with the movie. Most movie-to-musical adaptations feature changes to plot or character development, but not Mean Girls. The musical, adapted and written by Tina Fey as well, follows the movie with surprising attention to detail.
One of the best-adapted portions of the show (other than the obvious script) is its use of technology. Since the movie's debut 15 years ago, technology and communication has changed drastically for high school students with the use of social media and smartphones. The musical does a great job at incorporating modern phone technology with the movie's plot to bring the show to the next (half) generation.
This technology is aided by technology in the scenic design; instead of curtains or backdrops, the background is comprised entirely of screens the can change to everything from lockers in a hallway scene to large social media posts about a girl being pushed in front of a bus. Don't worry; Damian Hubbard (Samuel Gerber) clarifies that no one died.
Stepping into the role he understudies, Mr. Gerber's debut portrayal Damian is a fresh take on the confident gay best friend, who also duals as a part narrator with Janis Sarkisian (Mary Kate Morrissey). The two break from the movie only a handful of times when they break the fourth wall to add explanation and narration to the plot.
Playing the part of the antagonist Regina George, Mariah Rose Faith finds her flame in the song "World Burn." Theatrically, musically, and emotionally, this song is the high point in the show. It's the first time when the direction, sets, and staging all come together. The shame in it all is that it took halfway through the second act to reach this moment.
Like the movie, the musical features many instances of sheer laughter; infamous quotes and lines from the movie find their way incorporated into the show, along with original content added by Ms. Fey.
With that said, this show does not require seeing the movie as a prerequisite. It's ideal audience is someone who is familiar with the movie, maybe seeing it once or twice in order to vaguely recollect some of the popular lines.
If you host an annual viewing party on October 3rd (Mean Girls' Day) and can quote the movie by heart, you might be disappointed with unreal expectations of Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams making appearances on stage.
For what it is - a physical representation of what teenagers were obsessed with years ago and what adults are still obsessed with today - Mean Girls allows the best and the worst of high school to play out live on stage for the rest of this week in Pittsburgh.
To see or not to see score: 6/9; Moderately Recommended Show
Photo by: Joan Marcus