Nine-time Emmy Award winner Tina Fey brings her hit Broadway musical Mean Girls to the Academy of Music now until December 1, 2019. This national touring production of Mean Girls is part of the Kimmel Center’s Broadway Philadelphia season.
Mean Girls the musical is based on the film of the same name. This Mean Girls enjoys book by Tina Fey, music by Jeff Richmond, and lyrics by Nell Benjamin. It opened just last year on Broadway to great acclaim, and this great production directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw brings that Broadway excitement and style to Philadelphia. The amazing, kaleidoscopic sets were created mostly by video designs created by Finn Ross and Adam Young, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, and scenic design by Scott Pask. All at once, we could go from plaids whirling before our eyes, to confetti, to Regina’s power pink bedroom without missing a breath. Adding to this color wheel of glee is Gregg Barnes’ costumes which went the gamut from lions and African animals to mascots to middle-class high school kids from the Chicago suburbs in all their finery.
The cast includes any number of great tap-dancing, singing actors. Danielle Wade is Cady Heron, formerly of Kenya, now of North Shore High. Her performance of Cady is incandescent. We really care about this girl who needs to reinvent the wheel (as we all had to do) to find out for herself what truly matters in friendship, love, and life. Her two misfit friends Damian (dynamite tap dancer Eric Huffman) and Janis (belter extraordinaire Mary Kate Morrissey) help Cady navigate the pitfalls of this modern jungle. Damian needs to move past his George Michael obsession and buy a better-fitting pink shirt to keep his gay card membership up-to-date.
We meet two of Cady’s teachers, one of whom criticizes her name, while the other approves of her higher mathematics skills. Gaelen Gilliland as Mrs. Norbury looks here like Tina Fey’s older sister as she provides some of the stingers for comedy relief, while also providing some of the sympathetic shoulder Cady needs. Gilliland is a fine actress and a great belter. She also plays the frumpy Mother Heron who seems to be stuck in a 1960s Santa Fe hippie time warp. The other teacher, Mr. Duvall, is played with sincere foolishness by Lawrence E. Street. Kabir Bery is a knockout as Kevin, who is a math whiz, killer rapper, and all-round sex symbol who dances up a storm.
As the three Mean Girls, Mariah Rose Faith is a true Regina George. She has the looks, the moves, and the voice to take the role and fly with it. As Regina’s two stooges, Megan Masako Haley is an outstanding Gretchen, and Jonalyn Saxer as Karen Smith shows that she is a great comedic actress with a killer sense of timing.
This Mean Girls has it all, from razzle dazzle sets and lighting effects, wild, crazy, and inventive dancing, bitchy comedy, and true heart.
Mean Girls is part of the Kimmel Center’s Broadway Philadelphia 2019-2020 season which includes Dear Evan Hansen, The Band’s Visit, Hello Dolly!, Jesus Christ Superstar, and many more. For information about Mean Girls and other productions, visit www.kimmelcenter.org .