The national tour of Mean Girls opened at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre on Tuesday, but plenty of attendees were wearing pink anyway. And there were no sweatpants in sight.
The adaptation of the cult comedy film may be focused on the wickedness of high schoolers trying to fit in, but like everything Tina Fey touches, it also has a good heart. In her modern-day twist on the Cinderella story, everyone wants to fit and the desire to be accepted, adored or maybe even the apex predator affects us all. Cinderella can get caught up in the glamour of the ball and the chase for Prince Charming, and the evil stepsisters are dealing with their own insecurities.
Based on the 2004 film also written by Fey, the musical ran for two years on Broadway and racked up Tony nominations in just about every category before it, like so many things, became a victim of the pandemic. Now it’s touring the U.S. and Canada.
The two narrators, school outsiders Janis (Lindsay Heather Pearce) and Damian (Eric Huffman) were the two standouts of Tuesday’s performance, though the whole young cast shined, including lead English Bernhardt as Cady and the titular trio of Nadina Hassan, Jasmine Rogers and Morgan Ashley Bryant. If there’s a weakness to this musical, it’s the songs themselves with Jeff Richmond’s music and Nell Benjamin’s lyrics combining for only a few memorable hits like “Where Do You Belong” and “I’d Rather Be Me” (sung by those wonderful narrators).
But the story more than makes up for it with characters who feel more fully fleshed than their lunchroom stereotypes and the abundant humor throughout. And the set, anchored by a digital backdrop that instantly transformed the action from Africa to North Shore High to bedrooms and the mall, was a delight.
Mean Girls runs through July 24 at the Fox before heading to Texas and Wisconsin next with more stops in the U.S. and Canada through next May.