by ERIKA SASSEVILLE
Fifteen years after the original film Mean Girls (2004), Tina Fey has brought a new cache of quotable lines, snarky jokes, and “fetch” stories to the stage. Playing now through October 13th at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Mean Girls is a joyous, PG-13, examination of the high school experience.
As someone who was in middle school when the movie was released, and spent all 4 years in high school quoting the film with her friends, Mean Girls is a familiar, yet updated production. Tina Fey (book), Jeff Richmond (music), and Nell Benjamin (lyrics) skillfully and unobtrusively blend modern social media, slang, music styles, and social norms into the teenage-classic. The use of screen walls as set design (Scott Pask) allow the scene changes to transition seamlessly and provide the perfect canvas to display the social media consequences of the characters’ actions. They also provide even more opportunities for visual jokes: stores at the mall have names like “Build-dat-Bear” and “Yo!Fro!” just to name a few.
The cast does an excellent job of bringing the much loved characters from the screen to the stage, while still giving the audience new comedy to enjoy. Eric Huffman (Damian) is a spritely, musical-theatre-loving, songbird with a perfect sense of comedic timing. He and Mary Kate Morrissey (Janis) are wonderful narrators for this “Cautionary Tale.” Danielle Wade (Cady) steps fully into the role and delights the audience with her pitch-perfect awkwardness, especially around her sweet and handsome crush, Aaron Samuels (Adante Carter).
Scene stealing Gretchen Wieners (Megan Masako Haley) and Karen Smith (Jonalyn Saxer) are equal parts comedic relief and true teenage trauma. As cronies who struggle to find their own identities, Gretchen and Karen each have their moments to shine. Saxer, in particular, is able to expertly find the comedy in Karen’s physicality on stage. Whether it’s a head tilt, a walk, or even a series of blinks, Karen is always fun to watch.
The ensemble is wonderfully diverse, the perfect representation of who you see in any high school. Between moving set pieces, frolicking like animals on the savannah, and roaming the halls of North Shore High, the ensemble is an ever-present and dazzling part of the show. The choreography by director Casey Nicholaw is mesmerizing and shows off the range of talents the cast contains.
Any fan of the movie will have a blast at this show. Come see it before it graduates! Or gets hit by a bus…