If you loved “Mean Girls” the movie, you’ll like “Mean Girls” the musical, on stage at Centennial Hall with Broadway in Tucson through Sunday, April 2.
But you might not love it.
It’s the same story — 16-year-old Cady Heron (English Bernhardt) experiences teen girl angst for the first time after a lifetime of homeschooling in Africa and desperately tries to fit in with the cliques at her Chicago high school.
And the same predictable ending — she becomes the most popular girl on campus after putting the Queen Bee Regina (Nadina Hassan) in her place, landing the boy of her dreams Aaron (Adante Carter) and turning her back on her newfound best friends Damian (Eric Huffman) and Janis (Lindsay Heather Pearce) only to realize she has lost her true self in the process.
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It’s funny and entertaining and snarky — we’d expect nothing less from Tina Fey, who wrote the original 2004 movie and the book for the musical.
But at the end of the night as you’re leaving Centennial Hall, don’t be surprised if you don’t remember a single song from “Mean Girls” the musical.
The score, written by Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond with lyrics by Neil Benjamin, is mostly unmemorable. A couple of songs stood out —“What’s Wrong With Me,” “Apex Predator” and “It Roars,” which nodded to the puppetry of Disney’s “The Lion King” to recall Cady’s Kenya childhood — and the little asides especially from Huffman’s over-the-top Damian and Heather Ayer’s wonderfully sarcastic math teacher Ms. Norbury channeled the Tina Fey we remember from “Saturday Night Live.” But the singing was pitchy at times and performances were uneven throughout the 2½ hours.
Surely the audience nearly filling Centennial Hall for opening night on Tuesday, March 28, wasn’t expecting a “Lion King” experience, although the three-dimensional video projections were pretty amazing.
Judging from the demographics, which leaned heavily to mid-30s, the audience was reliving a chick flick memory that took them back to high school or their early days in college.
They were probably cringing as they saw themselves or their high school nemesis in the “Plastics”: Hassan’s pouty and deliciously overly privileged Regina, who always gets what and who she wants; Jasmine Rogers’ puppy dog do-everything-to-please-the-Queen Bee sidekick Gretchen; and Megan Grosso’s ditzy, self-professed dumb blond Karen.
Or maybe they related more to the vulnerability of Bernhardt’s Cady, who couldn’t quite pull off the cruelty of Regina. Or the over-the-top theatrics of Damian, who is obsessed with finding Mr. Right while keeping his own little clique of Cady and the hard-edge, revenge-seeking Janis on the same page.
At the end of the night, the audience could care less if the voices were less than spectacular or the songs were never going to find their way onto their Spotify playlists.
Broadway in Tucson’s run of “Mean Girls” the musical continues through Sunday. For showtimes and tickets, visit broadwayintucson.com.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at email@example.com. On Twitter @Starburch