“Get in, loser! We’re going to Broadway!”
Ah, beloved “Mean Girls.” It’s the quintessential quotable millennial comedy and the peak of Lindsay Lohan’s career. For years, fans of the movie have begged for a musical theatre adaptation, which creator Tina Fey eventually confirmed to E! News in 2013. The musical finally came to fruition this year at Washington, D.C.’s National Theatre, and the result is teen musical royalty.
One thing that has always stood out about “Mean Girls” is its outrageous, unforgettable characters. The ensemble cast for the current National Theatre production fits these characters like a glove, always outdoing themselves as the musical progresses.
Erika Henningsen delivers a perky, refreshing take on Cady Heron, a role originated by Lohan. Her transformation from cheerful, naive new student to self-proclaimed “bossed-up” Queen Bee is magnificent to watch.
Elsewhere, Barrett Wilbert Weed and Grey Henson play narrators Janis and Damien, whose outsider characters are expanded for the musical. Henson is an absolute scream as the flamboyant student whose wardrobe revolves around different divas such as Liza Minelli and Cher. Similarly, Weed retains the snarky comedic timing and rock vocals from her “Heathers” days to take Janis to the next level.
Other standout performances include Kerry Butler as three characters, Cheech Manohar as mathlete rapper Kevin Gnapoor and Taylor Louderman as Regina George. Her eleven o’clock villain number, “Watch the World Burn,” has few equals from any show this decade.
Perhaps the best and most hilarious performance is Kate Rockwell as Karen. Her immersion and comedic subtlety as the “dumb” Plastic is a show-stopping riot, as demonstrated in her song, “I Can Be.”
Other strengths of the show include its fantastic score by Jeff Richmond, who has composed for Fey’s shows “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” The show’s pop-rock score fits its exciting story and target teenage demographic. Favorite ensemble numbers include “Apex Predator,” “Revenge Party” and “Justice.” Furthermore, Casey Nicholaw’s hyperventilating choreography is mindblowing and is something Tony voters should consider.
Perhaps the show’s best technical aspect is its social media references. Since the plot is updated to 2017, the background screens are chock-full with screenshots of tweets, Instagram posts and Snapsterpieces. These features amplify the high school drama and one-liners and culminate toward the end in a subtle jab Regina makes toward Donald Trump.
Overall, “Mean Girls” is bound to be a hit in New York this spring. In an era of cult teen musicals such as “Heathers,” “Be More Chill” and “The Lightning Thief,” this show is in a clique of its own. How much fun is it? The limit does not exist. “Mean Girls” will make the film’s most devoted fans see it again and again, to which it will always greet, “Welcome back, nerd!”
“Mean Girl: The Musical” plays at D.C.’s National Theatre in a nearly sold-out run through Dec. 3. Get your tickets while they last!