Review: Mean Girls The Musical Live at the Hollywood Pantages

Garon CockrellTheatre, Theatre ReviewLeave a Comment

Credit: Jenny Anderson

Mean Girls
Pantages Theatre
January 4 – 29, 2023

Direct from Broadway, MEAN GIRLS is the hilarious hit musical from an award-winning creative team, including book writer TINA FEY (“30 Rock), composer JEFF RICHMOND (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), lyricist NELL BENJAMIN (Legally Blonde) and director CASEY NICHOLAW (The Book of Mormon).

Cady Heron may have grown up on an African savanna, but nothing prepared her for the vicious ways of her strange new home: suburban Illinois. Soon, this naïve newbie falls prey to a trio of lionized frenemies led by the charming but ruthless Regina George. But when Cady devises a plan to end Regina’s reign, she learns the hard way that you can’t cross a Queen Bee without getting stung. New York Magazine cheers, “MEAN GIRLS delivers with immense energy, a wicked sense of humor and joyful inside-jokery.” USA Today says, “We’ll let you in on a little secret, because we’re such good friends: GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!”

Credit: Jenny Anderson

I am always skeptical about turning non-musical films into broadway musicals.  I guess it’s the writer in me thinking that there are so many wonderful creators out there with amazing original ideas why do we need to go to back to the well of cinema to convert to Broadway. Turns out, it can be a good idea. In fact, Mean Girls may just be the best example of the trend.

Much delayed by a pesky global pandemic, Mean Girls has finally arrived in Los Angeles and the wait, while long, was worth it. The show, the cast, the songs, the set, it’s all wonderful. For me, it leaps into my top shows of all time.

The story is much the same as the movie and it all works in the musical just as well as the film. What’s really exciting is how well this cast inhabits the roles from the film. The cast of the film is pretty iconic in its own right and for my money, this company stands toe to toe with them. Everyone of the cast is fantastic and there are certainly stand-outs for me.

Firstly, it must be said that it is so refreshing and exciting to see such diverse casting. The Plastics, Nadina Hassan (Regina), Jasmine Rogers (Gretchen), and Morgan Ashley Bryant (Karen), are all gorgeous women of color who absolutely kill it. Morgan Ashley Bryant especially is so hilarious as Karen that it’s impossible to not have a smile on your face whenever she takes the stage. Nadina Hassan absolutely nails Regina and plays her so perfectly. Jasmine Rogers as well just kills it with the desperation and vulnerability of Gretchen. I can’t help but think of the kids in the audience seeing these women on stage and feeling like it is possible for them to be up there one day.

Credit: Jenny Anderson

While the entire cast is tremendous, I have to take a second to point out one of my favorites. Now when I got to the show, I really didn’t have a clue who the cast was, to be honest I rarely do. So my surprise when I read Lindsay Heather Pearce’s name in the Playbill was genuine. I adore her and this was finally the first time I was able to see her in a major show like this, and she absolutely did not disappoint. She killed it as Janis. One of my favorite things when seeing a musical is when you spot cast members on stage when they aren’t the focal point just genuinely enjoying the show they are a part of. She does this and it’s joyful.

Her partner in crime also took the spot as a fave for me: Eric Huffman just brought Damian to life in a charming, hilarious, and perfect way. Together, the two of them steal every scene. Their chemistry is obvious, their work together is a joy to see. They are the reasons I’d be seeing this show again for sure.

The lead, English Bernhardt, is a powerhouse who brings Cady to life with a wonderful innocence and fun that really carries throughout the entire show. She was giving me heavy Kristin Chenoweth vibes, which I can only imagine means we’re in for a helluva career from her.

I could honestly go cast member by cast member but this would be a novel suffice it to say, this company may well be one of the best groups of performers I’ve seen in a show yet. Top to bottom, they’re fantastic.

One last thing, the set! The background is made up of large digital screen that the sets are shown on. I don’t know what kind of resolution these things have but wow they are SHARP. It really looked like actual sets to me and not displays. It was really impressive.

Overall, Mean Girls is a blast. It’s funny, the songs are great, the performances are top-notch, and its just as relevant as it ever was. This is what musicals are all about. If you get the chance, no actually MAKE the chance to go see this show. You’ll have a blast and for a couple hours, you’ll forget whatever nonsense is going on in the world.

Mean Girls is now playing at the Hollywood Pantages and will be heading down to the Segerstrom in Costa Mesa in March!

LOS ANGELES
JANUARY 4 – 29, 2023
HOLLYWOOD PANTAGES THEATRE

COSTA MESA
MARCH 7 – 19, 2023
SEGERSTROM CENTER FOR THE ARTS

For more info visit Broadway In Hollywood!

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Garon CockrellReview: Mean Girls The Musical Live at the Hollywood Pantages