Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Tina Fey wrote the book for the 2018 musical, adapted from her own 2004 screenplay, and she has provided an unending stream of clever dialogue and zingers. (As calculus teacher Ms. Norbury, Fey's role in the movie, April Josephine is made up to resemble her.) Jeff Richmond created a tuneful score, with sassy and smart lyrics by Nell Benjamin.
The plot follows Cady Heron (Danielle Wade), a teenager raised in Kenya by her scientist parents and dropped into the totally different world of a suburban Chicago high school whose motto is "Where Friendship Is Possible." As she is guided around school by flamboyantly gay Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman) and semi-goth artist Janis Sarkisian (Mary Kate Morrissey), Cady gains the attention of the Plastics, the queen-bee clique led by silkily malicious Regina George (Nadina Hassan).
The entire cast is dead-on, from Wade's growth and the gradual implosion of Hassan's unflappable façade to fellow Plastics Megan Masako Haley, who leads the showstopping number "Sexy," and blank slate Jonalyn Saxer; the way Huffman and Morrissey come across as the balanced people who have each other and don't need to join cliques; and Adante Carter as a math nerd who is also attractive to girls.
Nicholaw's staging is playful and keeps the cast in seemingly constant motion, from the opening scenes in Africa (featuring chorus members in animal masks) to high school students careening around the stage on wheeled desks and using cafeteria trays as props in production numbers. Scott Pask's unit set, assisted by Kenneth Posner's lighting design and video designed by Finn Ross and Adam Young, changes instantaneously from one of several school locations to home interiors, a mall, and fantasies of graffiti and doctored photos. Gregg Barnes' costumes celebrate the excesses of teen (and wannabe-teen) fashion.
Mean Girls runs through April 24, 2022, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Opera House, 2700 F St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org. For more information on the tour, visit meangirlsonbroadway.com/tour/.
Book by Tina Fey
Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw