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Mean Girls | Review, Savoy Theatre

Tina Fey’s Mean Girls musical lands in London: Fetch is finally happening, at the Savoy Theatre!

Oh my god you guys! You will not believe what I heard in the lunchroom today… apparently Mean Girls the musical just  launched in the West End and it is so fetch! Yes, fetch is a thing now, deal with it. Yes, that’s right – it’s a musical adaptation of the cult classic 2004 high school movie… yah of course this version is also written by the amazing Tina Fey of SNL30 Rock, and a million other award winning movies and TV shows. You can totally feel her all over it, it’s got her ‘twinkle in the eye with a sideways smile’ sense of humour, and omg the songs totally give me life!

What? You want me to give you some sort of recap and tell you what I thought of it in more detail? Ok, nerd. Let’s do this! But I’m dropping the teen-speak as I’m 42 and I can’t maintain it (what do you mean “yeah, I could tell”??).

In the extremely unlikely case that you have never seen Mean Girls the movie, here is a quick run down of the plot: Cady (Charlie Burn), lives in Kenya and dreams of returning home to America and going to high school. She gets her wish but finds that high school is like a jungle in itself and she get’s taken under the wing / caught in the sights of the ‘Apex Predator’ of the school, Regina George (Georgina Castle), and her two lackeys, Gretchen the gossip (Elèna Gyasi), and Karen the not so smart one (Grace Mouat), collectively known as the ‘plastics’. The story that ensues is fun, full of epic songs, and someone dies (no one dies).

The first thing I noticed – was obsessed by – on entering the theatre, was the incredible set. Now in some ways it was super simple, but the fact that it was all made up of huge, custom made, curved, ultra HD screens got my geeky brain so excited! It’s so common to see projection in theatre these days, but these are screens that look like scenery, and the effect is next level. There are parts on both sides that slide open to allow entrance and exit (and the corridors visible also have screen walls and ceiling so they match the sliding walls), and it splits open in the middle to allow large pieces onto the stage (such as Regina’s ego… and bed). Above the moving parts, all the way up the back of the stage is another giant screen. This allows them to have very quick location changes and stunningly beautiful backdrops, only limited by Scenic Designer Scott Pask’s imagination and considerable talent. The blending of physical scenery with the tech wizardry, and of Kenneth Posner’s lighting with the screens themselves, makes it easy to forget that they are screens at all, and gives the show a very modern and movie like feel, as well as a faster pace than traditional theatre.

Oh you want to know about the people? Fair enough… The cast are fabulous – super fetch. Charlie Burn, playing Cady, the protagonist and the new girl in school, gives a very strong performance. Her voice is awesome – you don’t get to West End stardom without ticking that box – and she brilliantly portrays all the emotion of the role. Cady goes through a lot in the course of this show, and she really nailed all the different aspects – from the bashful awkwardness when she’s trying to flirt with Aaron, to the confident school queen when she takes her undercover plastics role too far, she played the part perfectly. 

Tom Xander and Elena Skye, playing Damian and Janis – the self-appointed school welcoming committee and the ones to open the show, were both fabulous too. Damian was beyond fabulous, in fact; his best friend describes him as “almost too gay to function”, and Xander rose to this challenge with his swishy high kicking fabulosity. He really got to shine in the song ‘Where do you belong’, which was a wonderful full ensemble number and had me grinning ear to ear (also influenced by Casey Nicholaw’s choreography, which is super fun). Janis is not as flamboyant, but Skye brought a lot of depth to her, playing this character who is outwardly confident but has been through a lot on account of her coming out and being betrayed by her middle school bestie, the emotional scars were palpable in the performance, and her desire for revenge really reinforced the old ‘hurt people hurt people’ expression, that so often rings true.

And then there are the plastics… Georgina Castle absolutely slays as Regina George, the queen bee of North Shore High. She was dripping with a nasty sense of superiority over everyone, and every look could kill at 100 metres. And when this young actor sings… she seems too slight to have such a vocal richness, but when she sang ‘Someone Gets Hurt’ and ‘World Burn’, it’s no exaggeration to say that she put me in mind of Shirley Bassey (I admit the Bond theme like tune of ‘Someone Gets Hurt’ may have helped that comparison into my mind).

Elèna Gyasi as Gretchen, was ultra-fetch. At times funny, but at other times, like when she’s singing ‘What’s Wrong With Me?’, my heart just went out to her. She beautifully portrays that teenaged desperation to fit in that some people have, that need for approval because you just can’t see your own self-worth – made even worse by a ‘friend’ who is constantly putting you down. Her character serves to remind the audience to believe in themselves, and not to stand for someone making you feel worthless.

Grace Mouat’s Karen was the funniest person in the show, hands down. Her ditzy ‘I’m so stupid but not at all self-deprecating’ act was spot on, leaving the audience in stitches. Her song ‘Sexy’ is definitely a comedic high point. Throughout the play, Karen is just so hilarious, and Mouat’s performance was a physical comedy masterclass.

All the ensemble and peripheral characters were great, really getting to shine in some great big numbers, my favourite being ‘Who’s House is this?’, in which the choreography, the rapping, the comedy pauses, all of it was just spot on.

I also have to make special mention of Daniel Bravo playing Aaron Samuels, Cady’s love interest. Dan was in Cruel Intentions at the Other Palace only a month or so ago and he must’ve just gone from one movie musical adaptation straight to the next one! The moment we saw him, I turned to my Mrs and said ‘omg, it’s Sebastian, he’s so good, and hot!”, and he did not disappoint. I guess when you’re a tall, gorgeous, hot guy, you get a little typecast as the tall, gorgeous, hot guy, but given the character I’d seen him play before, I knew he’d nail this role, and he does. This show is brimming over with people that are drop dead gorgeous, have fabulous voices, incredible acting talent, and you will be in awe of them, as I was.

Writing this, I had to ask myself, ‘Am I being too sycophantic? I’m supposed to be a critic, right?’ But the standard of West End theatre these days is so consistently high that I often find myself with nothing but great things to gush about.

Nick and Elise – it wasn’t Wednesday, but we wore pink!.

The show includes all the lines from the movie, that fans love to quote, like “on Wednesdays we wear pink”, “stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen”, and “That’s why her hair is so big. It’s full of secrets”. I can absolutely see this show having a huge following in a similar way to the movie, although given the fanaticism of musical theatre fans, probably even more so!

Need I say more? Probably not. So find something pink to wear and book tickets now for Mean Girls at the Savoy Theatre. Currently booking until February 2025. “Get in, loser… it’ll be fetch!”


To book tickets visit www.london.meangirlsmusical.com

Words by Nick Barr

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