“Mean Girls,” based on the eponymous movie, was a moderate Broadway success that played a respectable 800+ performances in New York before closing under the pressures of COVID, then setting out on a national tour. The Broadway reviewers, for the most part, damned it with faint praise. In “The Hollywood Reporter,” David Rooney referred to the score as “more workmanlike than inspired.”
I have not seen the film, but I like the premise and have confidence in the wit of Tina Fey, so I attended the San Francisco opening of the national tour with enthusiasm, expecting to have a light hearted good time.
Sadly, in spite of a truly outstanding, Tony-worthy scenic design by Scot Pask, there was little in this noisy mess that could make up for the screeching, the tired humor, the merely serviceable dancing, and the irritating personalities that made up the performance.
After a beautiful and hilarious opening set on the African savannah that spoofed “The Lion King,” things went precipitously downhill.
Eric Hufman, a capable thespian with credits that include the national tour of “The Book of Mormon,” had the thankless task of playing stereotypical, absurdly effeminate, over-the-top gay teenager Damian Hubbard, a character that might have been funny a decade ago, but in 2023 is as tired and irritating as wilted cabbage.
As a musical, “Mean Girls” is anything BUT musical. Melodies are forgettable, performances are more screech than song, and, for me, evoked cringing rather than applause.
This is not to say that the young cast, many of whom are on their first national tour, are not beautiful, enthusiastic performers and adequate dancers. I sincerely hope they are having more fun than I had.
Some day soon — it can’t be soon enough! — I will have forgotten the night I spent with “Mean Girls,” just as I have mostly, and thankfully, forgotten the years I spent in high school.
“Mean Girls” runs at the Golden Gate theatre through February 26, 2023. You should run, too. As far as possible in the opposite direction. Enough said. For further information click here.
Rating: *-1/2 (For an explanation of Theatrestorm’s rating scale, click here.)
“Mean Girls” presented by Broadway SF. Book by Tina Fey. Music by Jeff Richmond. Lyrics by Nell Benjamin. Based on the Paramount Pictures film “Mean Girls.” Director/Choreographer: Casey Nicholaw. Music Supervision: Mary-Mitchell Campbell. Scenic Design: Scott Pask. Costume Design: Gregg Barnes. Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner. Sound Design: Brian Ronan. Video Design: Finn Ross & A dam Young. Hair Design: Josh Marquette. Makeup Design: Milagros Medina-Cerdeira.
Damian Hubbard: Eric Huffman. Janis Sarkisian: Lindsay Heather Pearce. Cady Heron: English Bernhardt. Mrs. Heron/Ms. Norbury/Mrs. George: Heather Ayers. Mr. Heron/Coach Carr/Mathletes Moderator: Iain Young. Kevin G.: Caleb Mathura. Aaron Samuels: Andante Carter. Martin J.: Wesley J. Barnes. Tyler K.: Sky Flaherty. Mr. Duvall: Lawrence E. Street. Regina George: Nadina Hassan. Gretchen Wieners: Jasmine Rogers. Karen Smith: Morgan Ashley Bryant. Art Students: Wesley J. Barnes, Dan Horn, Avilon Trust Tate. Ensemble: Wesley J. Barnes, Erica Simone Barnett, Noah Blessing, Mary Beth Donahoe, Sky Flaherty, Megan Grosso, Dan Horn, Maya Imani, Lily Kaufmann, Milan Magaña, Sydney Mei Ruf-Wong, Kyra Smith,. Avilon Trust Tate, Iain Young.