Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Mean Girls
National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and Grace


Megan Masako Haley, Nadina Hassan, Jonalyn Saxer,
and Danielle Wade

Photo by Jenny Anderson
The musical Mean Girls provides a sharply satiric look at the maze teen girls are forced to navigate in high school, but it's so flashy and so much fun that the moral (about treating other people well and feeling empathy) makes it easy to swallow. The national tour, now in the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, features a talented cast, a glossy physical production with elements of video and vivid colors, and the relentless drive of Casey Nicholaw's direction and choreography.

Tina Fey wrote the book for the 2018 musical, adapted from her own 2004 screenplay, and she has provided an unending stream of clever dialogue and zingers. (As calculus teacher Ms. Norbury, Fey's role in the movie, April Josephine is made up to resemble her.) Jeff Richmond created a tuneful score, with sassy and smart lyrics by Nell Benjamin.

The plot follows Cady Heron (Danielle Wade), a teenager raised in Kenya by her scientist parents and dropped into the totally different world of a suburban Chicago high school whose motto is "Where Friendship Is Possible." As she is guided around school by flamboyantly gay Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman) and semi-goth artist Janis Sarkisian (Mary Kate Morrissey), Cady gains the attention of the Plastics, the queen-bee clique led by silkily malicious Regina George (Nadina Hassan).

The entire cast is dead-on, from Wade's growth and the gradual implosion of Hassan's unflappable fa├žade to fellow Plastics Megan Masako Haley, who leads the showstopping number "Sexy," and blank slate Jonalyn Saxer; the way Huffman and Morrissey come across as the balanced people who have each other and don't need to join cliques; and Adante Carter as a math nerd who is also attractive to girls.

Nicholaw's staging is playful and keeps the cast in seemingly constant motion, from the opening scenes in Africa (featuring chorus members in animal masks) to high school students careening around the stage on wheeled desks and using cafeteria trays as props in production numbers. Scott Pask's unit set, assisted by Kenneth Posner's lighting design and video designed by Finn Ross and Adam Young, changes instantaneously from one of several school locations to home interiors, a mall, and fantasies of graffiti and doctored photos. Gregg Barnes' costumes celebrate the excesses of teen (and wannabe-teen) fashion.

Mean Girls runs through April 24, 2022, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Opera House, 2700 F St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org. For more information on the tour, visit meangirlsonbroadway.com/tour/.

Book by Tina Fey
Music by Jeff Richmond
Lyrics by Nell Benjamin
Based on the Paramount Pictures film Mean Girls

Cast:
Damian Hubbard: Eric Huffman
Janis Sarkisian: Mary Kate Morrissey
Cady Heron: Danielle Wade
Mrs. Heron/Ms. Norbury/Mrs. George: April Josephine
Mr. Heron/Coach Carr/Mathletes Moderator: Will Branner
Kevin G: Kabir Bery
Aaron Samuels: Adante Carter
Martin J: Lamont Brown
Tyler K: Sky Flaherty
Mr. Duvall: Lawrence E. Street
Regina George: Nadina Hassan
Gretchen Wieners: Megan Masako Haley
Karen Smith: Jonalyn Saxer
Art Students: DeShawn Bowens, Lamont Brown, Dan Horn
Ensemble: Erica Simone Barnett, DeShawn Bowens, Will Branner, Lamont Brown, Morgan Ashley Bryant, Sarah Crane, Mary Beth Donahoe, Sky Flaherty, Dan Horn, Asia Marie Kreitz, Olivia Renteria, Sydney Mei Ruf-Wong, Kaitlyn Louise Smith, David Wright Jr.

Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw
Music supervisor: Mary-Mitchell Campbell


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