As requested by CranberryLass, this is a quick write-up after seeing the Mean Girls musical preview in DC last night. Disclaimer: I’ve never reviewed theater before, I have not been to many live performances, and I’m a die-hard Fey/Richmond fan.
Biggest impression is that the show is so energetic. The practically unknown cast all quite literally leapt off the stage with ease and passion. Combine that with the revolving set transition that seamlessly weaved into every number, it made for quite a visual feast. The opening number was instantly a highlight, but all the dance breaks are incredibly impressive – of course, like I said, I don’t have a lot to compare to.
The main cast are all so multi-talented it’s ridiculous, and I’m sure I won’t have to look up their names soon enough. Cady Heron is played by Erika Henningsen. Instead of Lindsay Lohan, she reminds me so much of the current lead in Great News, Briga Heelan. Then there are the misfits Janice and Damian, competent and perfectly cast in their respective roles. Finally there are The Plastics, all three pitch perfect mini Jenna Maroneys/Jane Krakowskis. But surprisingly, the one that stood out to me the most was Karen Smith, played by Kate Rockwell.
There’s a reason to that, which is the book. First of all it’s absolutely hilarious, and the show utilizes all forms of humor as they typically do in 30 Rock: it’s not just songs and dialogues, but also dances, movements, and sets. But the more important part IMO is that compare to the movie, while the plot doesn’t change too much, the format allows them to give the supporting characters much more to do, and so much more heart (and occasionally a little darkness too). Karen is the one character that benefits the most, and she also represents the care the show has given to the characters. Her gags elicited probably the best laughs of the night.
One more note on the music: I don’t think I hear any hint from 30 Rock and UKS. The score is a solid rock flavored Broadway musical. The one song from the show that definitely makes me appreciate Jeff is a duet between Regina and Aaron – Jeff Richmond can be a huge deal in 90s ballard if he had wanted to.
Now the cons. This being a preview, I’m guessing lots of changes are still going to happen before it officially launched on Broadway, and I’m very curious of what they are going to be. From my perspective, my biggest critique is that it lacks a “Tony song”. I can’t imagine any number right now to be performed on Tony night right now. Compared to Dear Evan Hansen, which has Waving through a Window and For Forever, this show currently don’t have any one song that’s award-baity enough. While the show has a lot of heart, some of the fan-fave characters were relegated to exposition, which they still excel at with their performance, but less fun from the story’s point of view.
Then, most of the famous punchlines (you know the ones) from the movie landed, but there are a few duds because of bad delivery or just that the audience didn’t have time to react. I’m guessing these would also make slightly less sense to the “older” voters who don’t get the references? Final thing, the cast’s vocals and song styles also got slightly repetitive in the second act, as they are all in the same style.
In conclusion: I hope it goes through the necessary changes it needs, and kills in the next season in NYC. I’ll gladly go see it again when I get the chance.
PS: I just like how theatre is effortlessly diverse.
PPS: I would love to see a Jane Krakowski cameo or something. Maybe on special occasions, like Oct. 3rd.