Home Performing arts 5 takeaways from “Mean Girls,” the musical at Appleton’s Fox Cities PAC

5 takeaways from “Mean Girls,” the musical at Appleton’s Fox Cities PAC


APPLETON — A funny, fast-paced, heartfelt story about navigating high school and the things that make you unique, “Mean Girls” plays at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center through Sunday.

The musical, based on the 2004 film, was originally scheduled to come to Appleton in January, but was postponed after several company members tested positive for COVID-19. The seven-month wait didn’t seem to dampen the excitement of the audience, which was filled with several people dressed in pink, a nod to the show’s iconic outfits and the line “on Wednesdays we wear pink”.

“Mean Girls” tells the story of Cady Heron (English Bernhardt), a 16-year-old girl who recently moved from Kenya to the suburbs of Chicago. Previously homeschooled, where she learned by observing African wildlife in its natural habitat, Cady finds herself thrown into the middle of high school culture, ruled by cliques and a social hierarchy led by the apex predator Regina George (Nadina Hassan ).

Here are some takeaways from Wednesday night’s show:

The musical is different from the movie, but still features many iconic moments

From “Stop Trying to Make Fetch” to “You Go, Glen Coco,” the musical version of “Mean Girls” incorporates lines and references throughout the show that movie and pop culture fans will recognize. definitely.

“Mean Girls,” the musical premiered in 2017, more than a decade after the 2004 film. To fit modern high school life, the script features lines referencing social media, hashtags, and to emojis, while the actors carry smartphones and take selfies. But the story of teenagers judging each other while desperately trying to fit in translates easily to today’s world. And although they weren’t set in the early 2000s, most of the classic lines still work.

Although the plot is essentially the same, the stage adaptation incorporates songs that give audiences a deeper insight into the minds of the characters than the film offers. A good example of this Gretchen (Jasmine Rogers) Act 1 solo “What’s Wrong With Me?” which offers insight into his fragile and insecure psyche, allowing audiences to feel more deeply about a character initially portrayed as more one-dimensional in the film.

Lindsay Heather Pearce stars as Janis Sarkisian alongside ensemble members of the national touring company

It’s a very dancing show

“Mean Girls” is powered by a very talented ensemble, jumping, locking, jumping, sliding and smashing their way through the stages. Dressed in bright colors and unique outfits, the North Shore High students were quite captivating in large numbers like “Where Do You Belong?”, “Fearless” and “Whose House Is This?”. It’s even more impressive when you consider the quick costume changes and vigorous choreography some actors perform in skinny jeans.

Transitions during and between scenes involved choreographed movements with desks, dining tables, and benches, carried and pushed by ensemble members in dynamic movements that kept the audience engaged. Audience members may be surprised at the aerobics involved in a show that takes place largely inside a high school.

The musical cast is much more diverse than the film

In “Mean Girls,” the musical, the three “Plastics” — the nickname for the popular girl trio who run the school, Regina George, Gretchen Wieners and Karen Smith — are people of color. It’s a notable difference from the film, whose three mean girls (played by Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert) are white, as well as the majority of the students at North Shore High. The set also depicts a student body made up of people of all different races, backgrounds, and identities.

LED screens take scenography to the next level

The scenography of “Mean Girls” is striking. The show is presented in front of a backdrop of LED tiles that serve various purposes. The screens depict fixed backdrops for different scene locations, such as school, mall, sky in Kenya, and interior of houses. They also post collages of images from Regina’s “burn book” and screenshots of student gossip from Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. And LED tiles are also used in more abstract ways — like an all-pink background during “Meet the Plastics” and animated balloons and piñatas with Regina’s face on them during “Revenge Party.”

Coupled with a variety of sets creatively brought on and off the stages by the ensemble members, the effect fully transports the audience into the world of “Mean Girls” for two and a half hours.

Adante Carter (Aaron Samuels) and English Bernhardt (Cady Heron) perform in

The songs will get stuck in your head

The music of “Mean Girls” is extremely catchy. From the slow ballad “More is Better” between Cady and her lover Aaron Samuels (Adante Carter) to upbeat anthems like “Revenge Party” and “I’d Rather Be Me”, the songs are a good mix of goofy and heartfelt. .

Many of the tracks each have their own unique sound – Regina’s songs are sultry and confident, which Hassan exemplified with a powerful vocal, while Bernhardt’s Cady exhibited a more serious and naive tone. Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman) and Janis Sarkisian (Lindsay Heather Pierce), Cady’s friends who act as the series’ narrators, have a classic Broadway tone and a rebellious, powerful belt, respectively.

Some other notable performances:

  • There was no weak vocalist in the cast, but particularly notable vocals came from Janis de Pearce in “I’d Rather Be Me.”
  • Karen Smith (Morgan Ashley Bryant) was perfectly silly, but extremely wise at times, and had some of the best lines on the show.
  • Although it was a smaller role, Mr. Duvall (Lawrence E. Street) had impeccably delivered stunt doubles that left the audience roaring with laughter.
  • An actress, April Josephine, played the show’s three adult women: Mrs. George, Mrs. Heron, and Mrs. Norbury. She brought such a different performance to each that without reading the poster, you probably wouldn’t know. Josephine played Mrs. George, Regina’s “cool mom,” with hilarious mannerisms, and Mrs. Norbury, the math teacher, with a very Tina Fey-esque presence.

Tickets for “Mean Girls” can be purchased online through Ticketmaster, by phone at 800-982-2787 or through the Fox Cities PAC box office in person or by phone at 920-730-3760. The PAC ticket office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

RELATED:Here are 5 things to know about the musical “Mean Girls” written by Tina Fey coming to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

Contact Kelli Arseneau at (920) 213-3721 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ArseneauKelli.