IT’S FETCH, ‘MEAN GIRLS MUSICAL’ WELCOME TO YOUR FIRST DAY OF HIGH SCHOOL
TINA FEY'S MUSICAL ADAPTATION OF HER 2004 MOVIE IS CLEVER FUNNY AND FULL OF POP TEEN ANGST
Review by Vince Mediaa
Class has started at the Golden Gate Stage this winter as North Shore High School has opened its doors to a new student Cady Heron. MEAN GIRLS the musical is now on stage through February 26th. Tina Fey’s adaptation of ‘MEAN GIRLS’ for the stage is a high tech script, with the swift bite of the 2004 movie though the songs that downplay the satire.
I did get a more of a bitch fight Heathers, High School Musical feel. Dear Evan Hanson has his high school open down the street at the Orpheum with a better mental health teen theme that upstages North Shore High's “The Plastics” gang. MEAN GIRLS is directed and choreographed by Tony honored Casey Nicholaw. The comedy also features a score by composer Jeff Richmond (Fey’s husband and frequent collaborator) and lyricist Nell Benjamin.
Former homeschooled Cady played by the compelling English Bernard fresh from South Africa enrolls at North Shore High. She does her best to mix in with her new classmates but of course comes into contact with all the classic teen drama and groupies. The metaphor of her African wilderness and high school remains from the film. The song 'It Roars,' the first number for Cady and the ensemble, subtexts the jungles as the movie did. The gangs of high school to the tribes of Africa. A bit of a LION KING tie in.
The visual centerpiece of the production is a new media of projection screens created by Finn Ross and Adam Young, and the clever Scott Pask's slick design that take us from the African savannah to the teen angst hallways of a High School in Illinois, as 16 year old Cady returns from one kind of wild to find a place in another. High tech bullying with rolling texts brilliant backdrops become the eye candy for this fast paced musical.
The sell out opening night crowd was dressed in pink to honor the teen villains of this story. “The Plastics” who honor “The Heathers” and a long line of women villains including the Furies, Gorgons and the witches in Macbeth. The Plastics wear pink on Wednesday and everyday is Wednesday at the Golden Gate Theatre. The queen is Regina George played by the superb Nadina Hassan. “I’m the prettiest poison you’ve ever seen. I never weigh more than one-fifteen,” sings Regina in “Meet the Plastics,” one of the many numbers that riff anthem classics songs, including “Someone Gets Hurt” and “Watch the World Burn.” Teen queen two Gretchen played by Mary Beth Donahoe sings “What’s Wrong With Me?” as she brown noses the Queen Bee. The third Plastic is the simple Karen played by confused Morgan Ashley Bryant.
Classmate Damian played by the sassy Eric Huffman introduces Cady to the pecking order of the North Shore High cafeteria clicks. It’s a sure High School Musical reference as all the ensemble use red lunch trays during the show stopper “Where Do You Belong” as Cady picks a table to sit at. Every one of the principals gets a number that tells us who they are. The satirical comedy of Fey’s book makes this adaptation of the 2004 movie enjoyable and a funny pop treat. The film’s popular lines are included to please the fans “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen!”. The updates to the era of iphones and social media are relevant similar to the other teen musical DEAR EVAN HANSEN.
Damian and Janis played by the impeccable Adriana Scalice are both camp and wise, and she is an onlooker to the Plastics. He opens the two Act musical with the words “welcome to highschool” and they both sing “A Cautionary Tale,” to the freshmen students and the audience. Scalice later sings 'I'd Rather Be Me' and gives the story its needed central difference in teen struggles. Damian is very aware that he is in a musical and each of his numbers are show-stoppers.
Director Nicholaw keeps the musical playful and his dance moves have a pop quality that seems perfect for teenage jazz hands. The finale, “I See Stars,” ends the story on a heartwarming note as Cady sings “Stupid With Love” hitting the hearts of teen girls from every generation. If you loved the movie, and found it as 'fetch' as Plastic Gretchen Wieners would say, then you will also love this musical. As always BroadwaySF offers RUSH seats for all their performances, find the details below. Attend classes at North Shore High and be ready to have fun and bring your own lunch tray.
MEAN GIRLS Musical
Book by Tina Fey, based on the Paramount Pictures film
Music by Jeff Richmond
Lyrics by Nell Benjamin
Must Close February 26th
Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St San Francisco
The show runs 2 hours and 30 minutes and one intermission
Tickets: 888-746-1799, www.shnsf.com
Photos by JENNY ANDERSON