By Keith Tomasek, Oct. 30, 2022
“Mean Girls the Musical” is on tour. Go see it when it comes to a town near you and revisit your suburban teenage world.
The high school cafeteria, the endless classes and the strangers at your party asking, “Whose House is This?” all add up to a fun-filled, nostalgic night that is everything you hoped it would be.
I saw “Mean Girls The Musical” at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto; this production is your final chance to see the show in Canada before it returns to the U.S.
No matter where you see it the show will surpass your expectations!
Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, the stage show is true to the film but adds much more. No stranger to adaptations, Nicholaw directed and choreographed the Broadway productions of “Aladdin” and “Elf: the Musical.” He also choreographed and co-directed “The Book of Mormon” with Trey Parker.
Nicholaw’s choreography makes perfect use of the high school settings.
What would a show set in the angst-filled period between a teen’s life in their parents’ home and moving out be without taking us back to the high school cafeteria where life-long relationships are formed? Nicholaw’s choreography in the musical number “Meet the Plastics” transforms those awkward introductions into a thing of beauty.
There’s magic in that cafeteria as those disgusting plastic trays and tables with attached seats transform into a thrilling dance where the mix of ordinary objects and teenaged insecurities becomes an emotional and celebratory highlight of the show.
While the songs in “Mean Girls the Musical” might not get stuck in your head, they’re lots of fun in the moment, and some will strike a chord with all but the most cynical.
In the let-it-all-hang-out ballad “What’s Wrong With Me?” Gretchen Wieners, played by Jasmine Rogers, summons genuine feelings and takes the show to a heightened level of emotional angst as she doubts her friendship with Regina George:
“Tell me what’s wrong with me
My body, face, my hair
Tell me all my many faults
Tell me like you care.”
Rogers is one of several cast members performing on a national tour for the first time. The energy and enthusiasm emanating from these young performers is much more infectious than the virus that kept them locked up for two years.
Their exhilarating performances will leave you laughing and energized.
You need to know I’m the father of a 16-year-old boy who often leaves the house before sunrise to attend extra-curricular orchestra rehearsals and then stays after school for football practice. These days I’m witnessing teen cliques and social manipulations that I haven’t seen since my youth. So I was intrigued by a show about fitting in and being true to yourself.
No one is more true to themselves in the “Mean Girls the Musical” touring show than the Art Freaks: Janis Sarkisian, played by Lindsay Heather Pearce and Damian Hubbard, played by Eric Huffman.
Pearce made her Broadway debut as Elphaba in “Wicked” and appeared as Harmony in the third season of the TV Series “Glee.”
Huffman was an understudy and swing with the original Jumamosi Company cast of “The Book of Mormon,” debuting in Chicago with Ben Platt.
These two are a fabulous pair. Pearce can belt out a song like Broadway’s best, and Huffman’s understated comedic chops are among the show’s highlights.
Another comedic highlight is Morgan Ashley Bryant. Bryant spent a year in the ensemble before taking the role of Karen Smith. She is the first black woman to be cast as a full-time Karen, and she nails the clever comedic writing from Tina Fey’s pen.
Fey’s comedic thumbprint is all over this show which has been updated since it opened on Broadway in 2018. That production received 12 Tony nominations and won the Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for Favorite New Musical.
Tina Fey’s book, the stellar direction and the choreography add up to a production that feels relevant. “Mean Girls The Musical” is a crowd-pleaser that will evoke smiles, and isn’t that what we need now?
Mean Girls the Musical
On now through Nov. 27
The Princess of Wales Theatre
300 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1J2
Call the box office: 1 800-461-3333
Details on the “Mean Girls the Musical” national tour dates.