July 24, 2024

Mean Girls 2024 Movie Review

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Mean Girls 2024 Movie Review

    National tours of Broadway shows allow theater fans who live far from Manhattan to see productions that would otherwise be beyond their grasp, and in most cases, the tours are a good facsimile of the original productions.

    But that’s not the case with “Mean Girls” currently on stage through Sunday at Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.

    This “Mean Girls” is a non-Equity tour that dispenses with elements that were crucial to making both the original Broadway production and tour so good and so much fun. Gone are the excellent projections by Finn Ross and Adam Young that provided much of the scenic background for the show, setting the place and quirky tone in a seamless, joyous fashion. That video design is replaced with uninspired scenic design that doesn’t always make sense; a scene in the second act that, according to the dialogue, takes place outside a character’s home is done with the school interior background. The lighting design, as interpreted here, is chaotic, unflattering to the actors and often distracting.

    What’s left is Jeff Richmond’s music, Nell Benjamin’s lyrics, and Tina Fey’s book about the consequences of bullying and trying to fit in. “Mean Girls” began as a 2004 movie with Lindsay Lohan, which was successful both critically and commercially. It was adapted into a stage musical and made its Broadway debut in 2018.

    The story follows Cady Heron, played on this tour by Natalie Shaw, a 16-year-old-girl who was raised in Kenya and homeschooled by her biologist parents. When Cady’s mom accepts a job in Illinois, Cady goes to school for the first time. Her initial friends are Damian (Ethan Jih-Cook) and Janis (Alexys Morera) who show Cady around and give her the lowdown on the various high school cliques. Although Cady is a math whiz, she eschews the mathletes in favor of the Plastics, presided over by queen bee Regina George (Maya Petropoulos) who rules her minions Gretchen Weiners (Kristen Amanda Smith) and Karen Smith (MaryRose Brendel) like a dictator. Cady’s desire to fit in leads her to be untrue to herself as she slowly morphs into the plastic persona.

    Cast standouts include Jih-Cook, who lights up the stage whenever he appears; Morera, who possesses a powerhouse voice; Shaw, who imbues Cady with an affability that’s hard to resist; and Kristen Seggio, who plays Mrs. Heron, Mrs. George, and Ms. Norbury, the calculus teacher and voice of reason. Seggio creates three distinct characters and excels at the outrageousness of Mrs. George and the no-nonsense dry wit of Ms. Norbury.

    Fans of the movie might enjoy this production, but this cut-rate version lacks the sparkle and dazzle that made the original Broadway show and tour so wonderful. This “Mean Girls” warrants a failing grade.

    If you go “Mean Girls” runs through Sunday at Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.

    Mean Girls 2024 Movie Review