Friday, April 13, 2018

Broadway Theater Review: Mean Girls

Kerry Butler and  Erika Henningsen . Photo: Joan Marcus
Mean Girls
By Tina Fey, based on her screenplay
Music by Jeff Richmond
Lyrics by Nell Benjamin
August Wilson Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The musical stage adaptation of the film, written by Tina Fey, with music by her husband, Emmy Award winner Jeff Richmond. If you like the movie, you'll like the show. If you've never seen the movie, you'll like the show. The story follows Cady Heron (Erika Henningsen), daughter of a couple of Peace Corps-type, animal studying parents who has been raised in Africa. When her family relocates to the states, she finds herself in a different kind of jungle -- American High School. There she findsa pack of Mean Girl predators and their vicious leader, Regina George (Taylor Louderman). She and her pack, Gretchen Wieners (Ashely Park) and Karen Smith (Kate Rockwell) terrorize their fellow students and dominate high school life. Outcasts Janis Sarkasian (Barrett Wilbert Reed) and Damian Hubbard (Grey Henson) offer Cady friendship, but she attracts the eye of Regina, who decides to make her one of their popular group. At first Cady and her friends think it's fun, but soon Cady finds herself sucked into the mean-girl vortex.

What Are the Highlights?
Clever and funny script. Very good music. Strong performances. In a season weak on musicals, this one has a chance at the Tony. It has big dance numbers with excellent choreography by Director Casey Nicholaw. All of the girls are fun and give their characters some depth beyond stereotype. Standing out is Henson as the awkward, gay teen.

Scott Pask's sets are entertaining and make easy transition between jungle and classroom (or are they really both the same thing...,?)

Keri Butler provides comic relief playing three different roles: Mrs George, the mom who wants to be cool, rater than a responsible parent, Ms. Norbury, a teacher who gets caught in the fallout of mean-girl wars, and Cady's mother.

What Are the Lowlights?
It's fun and enjoyable,. No lowlights.

More Information:
Mean Girls terrorize at the August Wilson Theatre, 245 West 52nd St. (the exterior doors have been painted an appropriate pink). 

Additional casting:
Kyle Selig as Aaron Samuels, Cheech Manohar as Kevin Gnapoor, Rick Younger as Mr. Duvall. Ensemble:Stephanie Lynn Bissonnette, Tee Boyich, Collins Conley, Ben Cook, DeMarius Copes, Kevin Csolak, Devon Hadsell, Curtis Edwin Holland, Myles McHale, Chris Medlin, Brittany Nicholas, Becca Petersen, Nikhil Saboo, Jonalyn Saxer, Brendon Stimson, Riza Takahashi, Kamille Upshaw, Zurin Villanueva, Gianna Yanelli, and Iain Young.

Additional credits:
Gregg Barnes (Costume Design), Kenneth Posner (Lighting Design), Brian Ronan (Sound Design), Finn Ross and Adam Young (Video Design), Josh Marquette (Hair Design), Milagros Medina-Cerdeira (Make-Up Design), Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Music Director), John Clancy (Orchestrations),Glen Kelly (Dance and Incidental Music Arrangements), Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Jeff Richmond, and Natalie Tenenbaum (Vocal Arrangements).

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Homosexuality
-- Minor LanguageMrs. George) and
Erika Henningsen
(Cady Heron)
Credit: ©
2017
Joan Marcus

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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