“Mean Girls” Musical Review

By Della Darvill

One of the most iconic teen films of the twentieth century has been given musical reboot. Mean Girls the musical, with music by Jeff Richmond, lyrics by Nell Benjamin, and the legendary Tina Fey returning to write the book, puts a 2018 spin on the 2004 chick flick so many of us still quote to this day - and it doesn’t disappoint.

Unlike so many musicals based on already existing films or stories, Mean Girls stays true to its movie routes, remembering and honouring the film’s most loved characters and moments whilst still giving it its own life. The vast majority of the film’s best quotes are woven into the music and dialogue, including “fetch”, “on Wednesdays, we wear pink” and “you go Glen Coco”. We meet each character again, only this time they’re bigger, louder, and can belt some impressive notes. The characterisation of certain parts have been expanded considerably to match the great measures of the musical theatre world, particularly Cady Heron. While Erika Henningson’s portrayal of Cady - originally played by Lindsay Lohan - has been given a superb musical reboot, at points we seem to lose her quiet, endearing shyness to just blunt social awkwardness. However this is made up for and matched by the unapologetic largeness of the entire show.

Mean Girls definitely doesn’t try and hide it being a musical. Sticking to age-old musical theatre traditions, most of the songs include a dance break, a chorus backing up the lead vocalist, and an end with the tempo slowing down to a chorus-line kick. However a lot of thought has clearly gone into the actual music of the show. At first glance, I worried that the musical would be an exact replica of the film with a few generic songs to replace the dialogue. Thankfully, I couldn’t be more wrong. Bar a few typical songs put in for plot reference, composer Jeff Richmond has devised highly original and interesting music. Each song clearly reflects the different personalities of the characters through the highly varied orchestration, whilst still maintaining consistent themes and motifs throughout to provide a sense of unity to the musical as whole. It’s no wonder one of the musical’s 12 Tony Award
Nominations was Best Original Score.

One particularly notable song is “Meet the Plastics”, where Damian and Janis tell Cady of the infamous mean girl trio, the Plastics, and each of them introduce themselves. The music and lyrics for Regina George, Gretchen Wieners and Karen Smith work in perfect harmony with one another to convey the personalities of each Plastic perfectly. Regina owns the stage and shows off her power and sex appeal, we see Gretchen’s manic drive to serve her master Regina, and Karen is the dumb blonde we’ve all come to love.

The simple and familiar plot line follows that of the film; the American high school queen-bee is taken down by a new student and everything ends happily. However the musical does touch on some very modern and relevant issues, especially for teenagers, such as the expectation of girls and the dangers of social media, particularly cyber-bullying and sexting. Whilst all masqueraded underneath a glamourous musical, it can be considered more effective to see these topics not explicitly developed but rather subtly dropped in and almost parodied.

So, would I listen to it again? Already have - many times.

Do I want to see it? Yes - I’m frequently checking if and when it comes to the UK.

Would I recommend it? Definitely. If you’re into cheesy musicals, or perhaps don’t want to listen to anything too taxing and just want a bit of laugh, I would absolutely recommend Mean Girls.