REVIEW: ‘Mean Girls’ brings musical humor to high school teen life

Promotional artwork for ‘Mean Girls’ courtesy of Broadway in Chicago

Grab your pink shirt and the Burn Book, because Mean Girls is coming to Broadway! Written by Tina Fey, the musical Mean Girls is a hilarious remake of her hit movie that dons the same name. With its first debut on October 31, 2017, it has become a popular and fan favorite of many musical theatre lovers. With music by Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin, this creative trio composed an uplifting and comedic musical. 

Based on the teen-comedy, the musical is about a teenager named Cady Heron, who transitions from being homeschooled in Kenya to going into a public high school in Illinois. She ends up dealing with all the drama that comes with being the new kid at school, not to mention the fact that Cady hasn’t learned the “social norms” of high school, which includes learning the ways of Girl World: understanding, behaving, and responding to life as girls do. Faced with the knowledge that she will now participate in a deceptive, two-faced world of superficiality, Cady must learn to navigate the rules of everyday high school and the Girl World that also populates it. 

Songs like “Where Do You Belong?,” “Meet the Plastics,” “Stupid With Love,” and “Revenge Party” capture the bittersweet humor of growing up today but in a more stereotypical society where, to be the most popular girl in school, you need to have the nicest clothes, a lot of money, and the snarkiest attitude. Add on the fact that you’re the innocent new girl and part of a squad of outcast friends, the show takes a look into high school life for a naive newcomer in the toxic world of high school where being popular is a means of survival. Each song reveals the insight of a teenage girl’s mind with fitting in, crushes — anything and everything that goes on in high school.

In the songs, “What’s Wrong with Me?” and “What’s Wrong with Me?” (Reprise), Gretchen Weiners, and later on Mrs. George in the reprised version, sing about their insecurities caused by Regina George and Cady Heron (after she became the new queen bee). The song digs deep into the minds of both characters about not understanding what they’re doing wrong when all they ever do is go along. 

Meanwhile, the instrumentals went perfectly with their thought process, with the piano in the beginning trickling in like a memory is coming to mind. The intensity that builds up then quickly fades, as if Gretchen is doubting that Regina is bad for her. As well as the lyrics being real and raw like a teenager’s mind, with no fancy words or intricate comparisons about their relationship. The songs are just genuine. 

Tina Fey’s writing for the musical was spot on comedic gold and modern whilst bringing back the nostalgia of the 2004 movie. Along with the musical’s composer and lyricist, the cleverly worded songs with the newly added scenes and jokes still made sense for the characters and made it more funny. It added a level of understanding of the characters that went beyond their acting by adding another layer of humor.

The one thing the writer misses out on is the amount of opportunities to include iconic Mean Girls scenes and quotes. Although it is not a direct and complete remake of the movie, it would have added that extra nostalgia some people were looking and waiting for. Even people who have never seen the movie are able to recognize quotes from the movie, which would have made it more enjoyable. 

Even so, the use of the sets and costumes were versatile and creative and the choreography that was put to make the scene flow seamlessly was well thought out and practiced. It was intriguing to watch the actors and dancers use what they had around them. It added to the end production of having a highschool feel because of how little they worked with, making it feel authentic and comical. 

There is something for everyone in this musical, especially if someone loves the movie Mean Girls. The songs are uplifting, heart-wrenching, and just straight up stupidly funny. With amazing and experienced actors, the musical was an unforgettable one. And the modern take and issues they weave into the story will make anyone cheer. 

The musical is, in the end, like, totally fetch.

Reann Salazar is a pop culture critic for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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