The National Touring Company of Mean Girls.
The National Touring Company of Mean Girls. (Jenny Anderson)

Mean Girls the musical is louder, longer, livelier and glitzier than the 2004 movie by writer/comedian/actor Tina Fey.

In Act Two of Mean Girls, protagonist Cady (English Bernhardt) sings “More is Better” an ode to the virtues of excess. While her love interest Aaron (Adanate Carter) disagrees, the musical “Mean Girls” embodies this concept wholeheartedly in a splashy production performed by a talented and energetic cast.

Now playing at the Fisher Theatre, the musical is louder, longer, livelier and glitzier than the 2004 movie by writer/comedian/actor Tina Fey. Inspired by Rosalind Wiseman’s best-selling non-fiction book, “Queen Bees and Wannabees,” the film rose above the typical teen fare of the time and became a cult classic, known for its smart screenplay, memorable characters and snappy one-liners.

The book for the musical was also written by Fey, with a score by her husband, composer Jeff Richmond (“30 Rock,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde). Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin) directed and choreographed the show.

Following its 2017 world premiere at the National Theatre in Washington, DC, Mean Girls opened on Broadway in 2018, garnering 12 Tony nominations but no awards.

Like the movie, the story centers on Cady, a new student at North Shore High School in an upscale neighborhood of Chicago. Cady has recently returned to the U.S. after growing up in Kenya, where she was homeschooled by her biologist parents. She quickly realizes that the beasts inhabiting her new environment are as savage as any she encountered in the African jungle.

The scariest creatures are “The Plastics,” so-named because they are “shiny, fake and hard.” The group consists of Karen (Morgan Ashley Bryant), Gretchen (Jasmine Rogers) and queen bee Regina George (Nadina Hassan), a self-proclaimed “massive deal.”

Cady is introduced to the school’s numerous cliques in the hilarious number “Where Do You Belong?” performed by outcasts Janis (Lindsay Heather Pierce), the “art freak,” and “too-gay-to-function” Damian (Eric Huffman). Both actors give outstanding performances throughout the show as they try to protect Cady from the scheming Plastics and the consequences of her own behavior as she strives to belong.

Throughout the show, the action on stage is non-stop, with spirited dance numbers and frequent scene changes created by scenic designer Scott Pask, lighting designer Kenneth Posner and video designers Finn Ross and Adam Young. The inventive use of LED video screens transforms a cafeteria into a classroom, a multi-level shopping mall and Regina’s bedroom, awash in Pepto Bismol pink.

With the exception of “Stop,” a tap dance number performed by Damian, the songs are somewhat lackluster, but the singing and dancing skills of the cast members, both the principals and the ensemble, make up for the uninspired score. The Plastics command the stage like they rule the school, as a group and individually. Karen’s self-deprecating routines elicit constant laughter, while Gretchen’s raw insecurity is palpable.

She describes her angst in one of the show’s most memorable lines.

“Sometimes I feel like an iPhone without a case,” she says. “I’m worth a lot and I have many great features, but at any moment I could just shatter.”

Hassan, an Ann Arbor native and the niece of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, plays Regina to the hilt, holding court in the cafeteria as she vanquishes her enemies with well-aimed barbs and withering glances.

Aside from a few updates, the musical stays true to the movie, which is not necessarily to its advantage. The most glaring example is when Cady gets revenge by supplying Regina with “diet” bars that actually cause her to gain weight. In the musical, Regina’s large, exaggerated tush is the source of much hilarity, on stage and in the audience. Really? Are we still fat-shaming in 2022? And why is Cady’s revenge plot based on damaging Regina’s physical appearance? Cady could have hatched a plan to sabotage Regina’s college application instead. Or her ACT scores. Or any other option involving Regina’s mind instead of her rear end. Just saying…

Social commentary aside, the message at the heart of Mean Girls is one of tolerance, compassion and acceptance. The rules are simple. Respect others. Replace criticism with kindness. And remember to wear pink on Wednesdays.

For information on current Covid-19 safety protocols for this production and other Broadway in Detroit events, visit

Mean Girls runs through Sunday, June 19, at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. Ticket prices start at $40 (including facility and parking fees). For tickets or more information, call 313-872-1000 or visit

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