iBy Morgan Politzer
As millennials, we grew up knowing why October 3 was a special day, what the Burn Book was and how to properly use the word “fetch” in a sentence. Now, we usher in a new era of Plastics in the new “Mean Girls” musical, directed by Casey Nicholaw.
Before making its Broadway debut, “Mean Girls” is premiering at the National Theater in Washington D.C.
Based on the 2004 movie of the same name, “Mean Girls,” written by Tina Fey, is full of hyper energy that you only get when you have a high school full of teenagers that spontaneously break into song and dance. “Mean Girls” chronicles the life of previously home-schooled Cady Heron (Erika Henningsen) and her new life as she is forced to move from Kenya to suburban Illinois. There, she is taken under the wing of the charmingly-ruthless Regina George (Taylor Louderman), the queen bee of North Shore High School and leader of the fashion-loving Plastics. Perpetually flanked by her anxious and dim-witted wannabes Karen Smith (Kate Rockwell) and Gretchen Wieners (Ashley Park), Louderman is perhaps even more seductively-menacing than Rachel McAdams in the original role, with an ice princess stare to stop you in your tracks.
As Cady says goodbye to her life in the Savannah, high school outcasts Janis Sarkisian (Barrett Wilbert Weed) and Damian Hubbard (Grey Henson) show her a new kind of jungle: a high school cafeteria. As Janis and Damian try to show Cady what can happen to anyone who dares to break out of their clique — a relatable message for the social-media age — a jazzy, High School Musical-esque musical number ensues. Cady wanders around the cafeteria, dodging in and out of different cliques as students suddenly break into song and dance on lunch tables.
Most of the show was comprised of similar musical numbers, with comparatively very little dialogue. The dialogue that did exist included wonderfully quippy comebacks and fast paced jokes. As each lead got an opportunity to sing their feelings, a pattern began to develop. The music for each actor had a very specific theme, with music for Regina George reminiscent of the late Amy Winehouse, and songs for Janis mirroring the style of classic 80s rock bands like the Eagles.
The opening number, “Wild Life,” provides the necessary background for Cady’s life in Kenya, something that’s otherwise skimmed over in the rest of the show. With playful allusions to “The Lion King,” director Casey Nicholaw does a marvelous job setting up one of the show’s most important motifs: the animal kingdom is nothing compared to the one held hostage by Regina George.
By far the most impressive moment was watching Louderman belt out “Watch the World Burn” as Regina turns the school on Cady by revealing the Burn Book. Louderman’s bold and impressive voice dominated the room as Regina stood high above her subjects, smugly watching them burn.
True to the current time period, set designer Scott Pask and video designers Finn Ross and Adam Young create the set using LED projections, allowing the African savannah to easily transition to the halls of high school to Regina’s oh-so-pink bedroom. This hybrid of real and digital set pieces creates a new look that blends perfectly with Nicholaw’s innovative choreography.
Of course, the most important part of the Plastics is their fabulous wardrobe — the fashion dream of so many in the early 2000s. Costume designer Gregg Barnes dresses Louderman, Park, Rockwell and later Hennigsen, in only the most fabulous floral skirts and pastel leather jackets and are obviously pink. Even Janis’s edgy artistic style and Damian’s iconic blue sweatshirt are accurate down to the finest detail.
Full of modern jokes and pop culture references, it will be interesting to watch how the show evolves over time as we move out of the 2010s. As it moves on to Broadway, here’s hoping that it will stay fetch.
Mean Girls will run at the National Theater in Washington D.C. until Dec. 3.
Featured Photo Credit: (Joan Marcus/ The National Theater)
Morgan Politzer is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.