Mean Girls Hits Broadway in Chicago

Michaela Reif, Scoop Editor

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The story of Mean Girls, which started as a movie with the screenplay by Tina Fey, has never truly been considered an insightful masterpiece. The same applies for the Broadway musical rendition of Mean Girls that is now showing at the Nederlander Theatre in Chicago. Anyone in search of heartfelt revelations and a sincere, moving plot will not find it in this musical, but anyone looking for catchy music, good, old-fashioned drama and an insane amount of glittery costumes will most certainly be satisfied.

The plot of the musical is best summarized by its own title. The show explores the inner workings of a group of “Mean Girls” that rule a high school in suburban Illinois. This clique is titled “The Plastics” and consists of Gretchen, Karen and Regina George, who is the absolute authority within the group, and she leads cruelly and with total power. 

The storyline begins with Cady Heron, who moves to the school after having grown up on the African savanna. She quickly makes friends with a few social outcasts, Janis and Damien, who teach her about the expectations and rules within an American high school. 

Unexpectedly, however, Cady is noticed by The Plastics and is invited to join them for lunch. At first apprehensive, she agrees to infiltrate the group under the suggestion of Janis, who wants Cady to act as a spy. 

As the musical progresses, however, Cady becomes more and more like the catty Mean Girls, and begins to betray Janis and Damien. Rumors and drama heighten as the “Burn Book”, a scrapbook dedicated to all of the worst criticisms and lies The Plastics have created for their peers, is revealed to the school. 

As this unfolds, Cady is forced to question her own morals and is left wondering which version of herself will help her get the attention of Aaron Samuels, her popular and kind love interest. Throughout this action, friendships are tested drama unfolds and hilarity ensues during the climax of the musical.

Most of the plot of the show is driven dialogue, while various musical numbers are added in to emphasize key moments or to develop certain characters. Perhaps the most stand-out number is “Meet The Plastics,” which introduces the main “Mean Girls” of the show. The tune is incredibly catchy, but like the plot of the musical, it lacks any real depth. The rest of the songs are similar, each fun and comical but not necessarily worth listening to outside of the performance. 

Unlike the music, the acting truly stood out. Each cast member portrays the ditzy shallowness of their characters perfectly, and Mariah Rose Faith, who plays Regina George, is excellent in both acting and singing. Likewise, Megan Masako Haley, who portrays Gretchen, does an amazing job of depicting the depth of her character, representing both her insecure and malicious characteristics well. Despite having the smaller role of Janis, Mary Kate Morrissey is notable for her emotional acting abilities, perfectly showing the feelings of betrayal and hurt that her character feels after Cady’s actions. As the leading actress, Danielle Wade, who plays the lead role of Cady, is exceptional in both singing and acting, mastering the transition of her character from innocent new girl to shallow, twisted Mean Girl. 

Also noteworthy are the sets and costumes. Glittery, pink costumes, that change many times throughout the musical, help characterize the materialistic and shallow nature of The Plastics. Cady’s own transition of clothing helps reflect her change in character as well. Janis and Damien are differentiated by their own clothing choices, which are intended to represent a more artsy and grunge aesthetic. 

The set is incredibly high-tech and uses screens to bring the high school atmosphere to life. At the beginning of the musical, the screen flipped through various pages of the burn book, amusing the audience before the opening of the curtains. 

Overall, I found this musical to be a fun, light-hearted experience. It may not be the most memorable of performances, but it is an expertly done rendition of a comical, playful movie. The musical is only at the Nederlander until January 26th, but for those who cannot get tickets in time, there is speculation that the musical will be returning to Chicago in the future.