MEAN GIRLS At Bass Concert Hall is mercilessly hilarious
Broadway In Austin brings the mercilessly hilarious North American tour of Tina Fey’s MEAN GIRLS to Bass Concert Hall, where the theater is cool and the show is hot, hot, hot! I was lucky enough to be able to attend opening night on Tuesday with a packed house of ardent fans.
MEAN GIRLS started life as a surprise hit movie in 2004, written by SNL alum Tina Fey. Since then, it has grown into an award-winning musical without missing a comedic beat. It’s the coming-of-age story of high school debutante Cady Heron (English Bernhardt) and her attempt to fit in, make friends, and date the perfect guy. Things start off well for her when she meets Janice (Lindsay Heather Pearce) and Damian (Samuel Gerber), two “misfits” who really like Cady. But things go off the rails when she’s noticed by the “Plastics,” a vicious trio of enemies that includes Regina (Nadina Hasan) and her fiery sidekicks Gretchen (Jasmine Rogers) and Karen (Morgan Ashey Bryant). Damian and Janice, who narrate the show, encourage Cady to infiltrate the posh clique and report the dirt to them. With the seeds of comedy firmly planted, we’re invited to watch the highly entertaining bounty. MEAN GIRLS is a fast and furious flurry of production moving at the speed of light from the stage. Each set is mounted on wheels and slides on the stage moved by the actors in perfect coordination. But it’s the huge on-stage video screens that are the game changer. These screens are used for setting the background for the whole show and cut scene changes down to nanoseconds. Bright, moving and sometimes a little too flashy, these high-tech apartments represent a revolution in theatrical production. Why paint a background when it can be sent to the stage via video without moving anything or building expensive sets? Excuse me, I’m a bit of a technical theater geek and found this aspect of the show absolutely fascinating. If you want to experience MEAN GIRLS in all its original glory, this is the tour for you.
Stellar performances are the norm for this show, but there were a number of highlights. English Bernhardt as Cady is heartbreakingly serious and engaging. As the reigning queen of high school, Nadina Hassan plays Regina with incredible vicious grace. Perhaps my favorite performances of the night were Samuel Gerber as Damian, Lindsay Heather Pearce as Janice, and Morgan Ashley Bryant as Karen. Gerber is perfection as a young gay man who has fun and lovingly supports his friends. As Janice, Pearce embodies the wounds of the past and a palpable personal thirst for revenge. Bryant plays Karen as genuinely sweet and obtuse, a self-knowing character you can’t help but love. The entire cast is fantastic and I couldn’t help but notice that they were in the roles because of their personal talent and not their physique, something I found extremely refreshing.
I highly recommend getting a ticket for MEAN GIRLS, but I would also ask parents to watch the material carefully before bringing younger children to the show. I saw quite a few kids under 10 in the audience the night I attended. Although the language is quite mild, the series’ action and situations are clearly teen to adult in nature. My mid-teen grandson was overjoyed at the show, but backed off when he saw younger children in attendance. You have a lot of chances to see this hilarious show!
book by tina fey
Music by Jeff Richmond
Lyrics by Neil Benjamin
Broadway in Austin
Bass concert hall
August 2 to 7
Duration: 2h30 with a 15 minute intermission.
Tickets: $32 and up, https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2189639®id=141&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Ftexasperformingarts.org?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1