Wednesday, January 8, 2020

That's So Fetch πŸ’• (Mean Girls Review)

On Wednesdays, we go see Mean Girls. When I heard this movie was becoming a musical and Tina Fey was writing the book, I was so excited. It took me a year and a half to see this show because with my luck I was losing the lottery every time I entered it. I heard a few months ago that they started to do rush tickets every day before performances but decided to actually check it out back in October.

I arrived at the theater on a Sunday morning around 10 AM and was about 11th in line I believe. What helped for me was that it was a random two show Sunday and most of the people in front of me were there as a group.

Before I get started on my review, I'm so excited to have my friend AJ join in on this review. He was lucky enough to see the original broadway cast and I've asked him to write a review of the show from when he saw it. Enjoy it below! 

Mean Girls is a very special musical for me because it was the first musical I saw on Broadway. It was a gift from my parents as a Christmas/21st Birthday present. Mean Girls is one of my favorite movies and when I heard that they were making a musical, I immediately started bugging my parents to get me tickets. It took some persuading, but it worked.

Mean Girls: The Musical is based off the 2004 cult classic that stars: Tina Fey, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amy Poehler, and very many well known actors and actresses.
Although Fey kept the show very similar to the movie, the classic jokes and type of bullying was updated to keep up with the times. 

Overall, the show was great. The intricate way the story was told through Cady’s perspective, but narrated by Janis and Damien was a nice twist added to the musical. Each each actor/actress selected to play their role was perfect for the role. The only thing that I was disappointed in was the mediocre score. Usually when I listen to a musical, I have my favorite songs, but I never really skip a song on a musical soundtrack. For Mean Girls, I found myself skipping 4-5 songs when listening to it. Of course 2-3 songs made sense when I saw the musical, but “More is Better,” and “Stars,” didn’t make sense even when I did see the show. The mentioning of the stars metaphor towards the end of the musical left me rather confused and found it to be lazy planning. It would’ve made more sense if the stars metaphor was brought up in “It Roars,” which would’ve made the perfect foreshadow for “More is Better,” or the finale song “Stars.” Also character development throughout the production seemed kind of rushed. Of course, there had to be changes made to adapt the production to the stage, but I often caught myself thinking that they could go deeper with some character’s story. For example: Cady’s transformation to become the next Queen Bee was only shown in “Fearless,” which was great, but I felt like they stopped with her character development after that. When I saw the musical in May 2018, it was the original broadway cast.

Taylor Louderman as Regina George was seriously a massive deal. I’m a little biased because she lived only 20 minutes from my hometown, so it was cool to see someone from the St. Louis area on Broadway. From her entrance in “Meet the Plastics” to her iconic song “World Burn,” Louderman did not disappoint as Regina. There was something more intellectual and comedic about her playing Regina George than Rachel McAdams did in the movie. We see a more in depth version of the musical Regina and why she acts the way she does. At the end of the show, you almost feel bad for Regina because she starts to realize that her actions do hurt. Again, I wish we saw more after she has her epiphany in the bathroom with Cady. Louderman provided a fresh face to the Regina George name. She literally made everything flawless.

Erika Henningson as Cady Heron was lean mean acting machine. I honestly couldn’t have picked a better Cady. From when she walked onto “It Roars,” you immediately caught the essence of Cady Heron. Henningson has some wholesome innocence to her which transition into playing Cady seem effortless. 

Kate Rockwell as Karen Smith was “two thumb ups” emoji’s. I thought her character was a nice twist from the original Karen. I think she is the hardest character to portray and Rockwell crushed it. Her strategic comedy in the show is what makes it a great show. A lot of people complained about her not being so involved in choreography, but on a character development sense, it made perfect sense on why her choreography in dances were so simple. Because let’s face it, can Karen really pick up complex choreography?

Ashley Park as Gretchen shined brighter than a disco ball. Ashley caught the true essence of Gretchen and made it her own. We see a different twist of Gretchen in this production. We see her more anxious and she is aware that she’s one step below Regina from the very beginning in “Meet the Plastics.” Park’s wide range of vocals made me want more from her, but the songs written for Gretchen seemed to lag and were often confusing for her character development. I honestly could’ve done without “What’s Wong With Me,” both the original and Reprise. In a way of made sense for Gretchen, but it didn’t make sense for the musical. 

Barrett Wilbert Weed as Janis Sarkizian made me want to put my thumbs up instead of my right finger. I truly felt this part was written for Weed. I cannot think of another actress who could’ve played Janis. When she first walked on stage during “A Cautionary Tale,” I screamed because I was in the presence of a Broadway icon. With that being, said some of the notes written for the musical were out of her vocal range. You could tell that she was trying, but I think “Heathers” put a lot of strain on her vocal cords. You could tell that Weed added her own flare to Janis which made her more relatable as a character because Weed seemed to put a lot of herself into the character. Also the chemistry she and Grey Henson (Damien Hubbard) bring to the stage is a true masterpiece, you can tell right away they are two friends just having fun with each other on stage. It seems like they’re not playing just their characters, but that they’re playing real life friends.

Grey Henson as Damien Hubbard made kick, layout, and flossied over his performance in my seat. He is the gay best friend everyone needs. From his iconic tap solo in “Stop,” to the iconic “She doesn’t even go here!” line from the movie, Henson gave it his all. We see a different Damien from the movie. We get a lot of backstory about Damien in the musical and Henson does a wonderful job portraying that.

Kerry Butler as Sabrina George/Mrs. Heron/ Mrs. Norburry wasn’t just regular roles, she made them cool roles. The way she was able to make it seem like different people were playing those characters were phenomenal. Even when she sang as Mrs. Norburry and as Mrs. George I had to remind myself that was Butler singing, not two different people. Her Mrs. Norburry kind of lacked in a way that I barely remember her role in the musical, but she made up for it as Mrs. George. 

My final thoughts of the musical, are that it’s not a Tony Winner, but it’s still a good musical. It has some of the strongest ensemble I’ve seen in a show and the production does a great job of including them in a lot. Also the set design is so simple, but does a lot for the show. It’s a show to see if you have nothing planned for the weekend or just need a good laugh. I would go see it again to see ReneΓ© Rapp as Regina George and to see Krystina Alabado as Gretchen. 

Now I actually agree with everything AJ has said about the show. When the show was up against a show like The Band's Visit, it was a no brainer which one would win just based on the depth of the shows. The previous season seemed like a big blockbuster turned musical year with shows like Mean Girls, Frozen and Spongebob. I was able to see the current cast on Broadway and will give a brief overview of each performer. 

ReneΓ© Rapp as Regina George is amazing. Her vocal range is out of this world and she portrays the mean girl very well. What I also love is the fact that they cast her even though she's not what most would picture as the typical Regina. This is what I love most about this show is that they don't have a stereotype over what the characters should look like, allowing anyone to be able to audition for the role. I was so excited to see her "World Burn" and she did not disappoint. 

Krystina Alabado as Gretchen was so cute and bubbly. She makes Gretchen seem more like a girl following someone around that she idolizes. She's the typical follower of the group, always needing a leader to help her find her way. Gretchen, in my opinion, has one of the stronger character development because she goes from trying to change herself to impress others to finding out who she really is and being true to herself. 

Jennifer Simard as Mrs. George/Mrs. Heron/Ms. Norburry has a pretty similar review as when AJ saw Kerry Butler in which they did a great job in making each character their own. Having to play multiple characters in a role is a feat and they did a fantastic job. For me, the character Simard made stand out the most was Ms. Norburry. She channeled her inner Tina Fey and it worked for her. 

I was lucky enough to see standby Olivia Kaufmann as Janis and she was incredible. I love when there's an understudy on because it makes the performance feel so fresh with everyone working off a new person. Kaufmann and Grey Henson made a dynamic duo pairing with Janis and Damian and were the true stars of the show. Kaufmann performing "I'd Rather Be Me" was mind-blowing and it's definitely my new anthem from the show. 

For anyone who wants a good introduction to musical theater with a story they are familiar with, Mean Girls is the show to see. It's definitely a lighter show and you're bound to have a great time seeing it, especially with your girlfriends. 

Mean Girls is currently playing at the August Wilson Theatre and is currently on a national tour. 


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