Review: Mean Girls starring Erika Henningsen
Tina Fey's cult classic movie Mean Girls has been taken from the screen and made into a new Broadway musical. While movies don't often translate well into musicals, this one translates to the stage incredibly well partially because Fey herself wrote the book, which certainly keeps the original spirit of the movie alive. Every single song is a showstopper in its own way, and it helps that many of the classic lines from the movie are kept in the script.
Taylor Louderman plays Queen Bee and ruler of the Plastics, Regina George. In this role she shows a side of her acting ability I had not seen before. Having previously seen her play Lauren in Kinky Boots, it was incredible to see her play a completely different character so well. Not only does it demonstrate her ability as an actor, but it shows how much she puts into her characters.
Ashley Park and Kate Rockwell play Gretchen and Karen, respectively, Regina's minions. Both of them give more depth to characters that we don't get to learn too much about in the movie. Park was fabulous when singing "What's Wrong With Me?", while Rockwell was great singing "I Can Be", as well as being a clear audience favorite and got a great deal of cheers after she was onstage.
Erika Henningsen is sweet and relatable as Cady. While her only other Broadway credit is Fantine in the recent revival of Les Miserables, the fact that she can go from that to the character of Cady, who is about as far away from Fantine as you can get, is demonstrative her range as an actor. Having to carry the show for the most part, she does it quite well. Singing "Stupid with Love" about falling for a boy, she nails the complication of feelings in high school. That is really her only solo song the entire show which takes a lot of the story away from her, despite Cady being the main character. However with the changes that have been made from the movie it works.
Grey Henson as Damian and Barrett Wilbert Weed as Janis are absolutely phenomenal! They are the first two characters we meet and they become the narrators of the story. I was immediately blown away by their dancing, singing, and acting. They shine together during "Till Someone Gets Hurt (Reprise 2)", and "Revenge Party" and Weed herself is amazing during "Apex Predator" and "Rather Be Me" while Henson is fabulous during "Stop". The two of them absolutely steal the show and were two of my favorite parts of the production.
Kerry Butler has the task of switching between three characters - Cady's mother, Regina's mother and Ms. Norbury. While she does so flawlessly and is wonderful in each part, she is at her best as Ms. Norbury, the math teacher played by Tina Fey in the original movie. She reminded me of Fey in the role, while still bringing her own personality to it, and I was very impressed. Cheech Manohar and Kyle Selig do quite well as Aaron and Kevin, respectively. Selig is cute, and has chemistry with Henningsen that works quite well onstage. Manohar on the other hand is absolutely hilarious as the Mathlete and rapper.
The dancing in the production is out of this world. Often in new musicals I have found the dancing to be dialed back and not as prominent. However, in Mean Girls, it is as present as ever! It becomes an integral part to the storytelling alongside the fun and memorable songs. The entire cast is clearly having fun onstage and every single cast member is a standout.
Mean Girls has a bright future on Broadway and I truly cannot say enough good things about it. They leave audiences with a deeper message about kindness and how you should treat the people around you. Everyone involved in the show should be proud of the wonderful piece of theater now playing on Broadway.