Mean Girls Musical at Segerstrom Center for the Arts Review

Mean Girls Cast. Photo Credit: Jenny Anderson

Mean Girls is the classic teen comedy by director Mark Waters and writer Tina Fey back in 2004, and it’s very fitting that Fey returned as the writer for the musical that’s currently touring across the nation. Like the film, the musical follows Cady Heron, a teenage girl who moves from the African safari to a Chicago suburb. All the fan-favorite characters are here including Regina, Janis, Gretchen, and Karen. The Mean Girls musical at Segerstrom Center for the Arts captures the story and message of the film, the choreography was inventive and the background sets utilize vibrant syncing video technology. With that said, the music and cast have their highs and lows.

English Bernhardt and Lindsay Heather Pearce were both excellent in their roles as Cady Heron and Janis Sarkisian, respectively. Bernhardt is relatable and vulnerable as Cady as she navigates her new life at North Shore High School. Pearce’s portrayal of Janis was quick-witted and energetic, and she’s one of the outstanding singers of the musical. Together with Eric Huffman as Damian Hubbard, we were in for a fun ride in the wilds of high school.

Another highlight was the choreography and staging of the musical. There would be inventive use of the classroom setting where students would roll in on the stage via their desks. To make moving easy, wheels were attached to the legs, allowing the performers to move across the stage without trouble. One moment that really stood out was how the performers rotated in unison as different teachers show up for different sections. It’s such a simple technique that conveyed the passing of time as students learn from one class to the next.

There’s plenty of humor, with some jokes changed from the original movie. There are some hits and a few misses, but most of it has been intact from the film. Morgan Ashley Bryant looks to have a lot of fun really embracing the comedy and ditziness of Karen Smith, and her singing is also wonderful.

The songs in Mean Girls are a mixed bag. There are decent songs like “Revenge Party,” I’d Rather Be Me,” and “Sexy,” while others are lackluster with their lyrics and forgettable tunes.

Nadina Hassan brings the heat as Regina George, embodying the mean girl persona. However, she lacked the vocal range and power needed for a few of the bigger musical numbers. This was very apparent in “World Burn” where Regina shows her anger and rage. Hassan could potentially radiate in upcoming productions with some more vocal training and a fitting song.

Overall, the Mean Girls musical has some flaws, but there are also many strengths, including remarkable performances from Bernhardt and Pearce, quick-witted humor, and mesmerizing staging. The musical has something for fans, who will enjoy seeing fan-favorite characters come to life on stage, and newcomers will get to enjoy a show with humor and heart.

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