She Doesn’t Even Go Here!

Ritika Kumar, Online Arts Editor

I walk into the theatre and see the lit Broadway stage in front of me. I’m surprised that the set’s backdrop is made up of an enormous screen, filled with photos and captions. I’ve wanted to see Mean Girls on Broadway for a while now. The movie is extremely popular in our generation and I’ve wondered how Broadway would be able to professionally modernize the musical. Just as I sit down and feel the lights dim around me, I know that I’m in for a ride. 

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Mean Girls, the movie, is a teenage rom com that was directed by Tina Fey in 2004. The movie has a simple, cookie-cutter outline and is about a homeschooled girl who moves to the U.S. from Africa and experiences high school for the first time. As soon as the movie was released, Mean Girls references spread like wildfire all over the world. More than a decade later, kids can still be heard referencing the famous lines: “she doesn’t even go here” and “You go, Glenn Coco!” The movie even prompted interesting facts to arise, such as one junior Jessie Lin provided: “if you get hit by a bus in college, they pay for your tuition!”

Mean Girls was released on Broadway in 2018, and has been on tour nationwide since this September. Last weekend, I went to watch Mean Girls (the musical) with my friends and my eldest sister, Devika. The production that we watched featured Erika Henningsen as protagonist Cady Heron and former star Cameron Dallas as love interest Aaron Samuels. One of the most powerful aspects of the production was the usage of the enormous screens. Whenever a rumor spread or there was a powerful moment, the screens were used in an efficient way, effectively portraying the message that technology can influence us in both good and bad ways. 

Looking back at the performance, the musical would have been significantly better if the characters playing the roles were actually teenagers rather than adults, and the entire cast was more diverse. As alumni Devika Kumar ‘16 stated, “the romance between Aaron and the main girl wasn’t as good or developed as it should have been. I definitely think that the move was better. But I do think that the actress that played the teacher was the best one there.” 

Perhaps it was because I thought of Mean Girls as a brainless movie, but I felt as though Mean Girls the Musical wasn’t the most put-together Broadway production I had seen. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be a show. While the acting was good, some of the actors were slightly pitchy. Still, I am amazed at how universally loved this story-line is among teenagers and adults alike. The cast and crew defied the traditional norms of Broadway Productions and succeeded in creating a new era for Mean Girls!