Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

We’re sure Mean Girls requires very little in the way of introduction, but for those who have somehow managed to miss this cultural phenomenon, it’s a film written by Tina Fey dating back to 2004 (yes, it really is celebrating its 20th birthday this year). It tells the story of Cady, who had previously been home schooled, as she attempts to integrate into her new high school. She crosses paths with the titular mean girls – known as The Plastics – and their ringleader, Regina George. We shan’t say more, but it’s a somewhat cautionary tale.

A Broadway musical adaptation of the film – book once again by Tina Fey, with music by Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin – opened back in 2018; the original plans for a London transfer were significantly delayed by the pandemic. In the interim, a new version of the movie (based on the Broadway musical, and featuring the same songs) has been released. We weren’t particularly sold on that film – it was fine, but it lacked the bite of the original, and we tend to find that movies based on musical theatre shows are rarely as good as seeing a live performance. So how does this production of Mean Girls stack up?

We’re pleased to report that it’s a whole lot of fun – this musical is just as camp and queer as you’d expect. You might be here for the iconic quotes – whether you’re trying to make fetch happen, or you’re too gay to function, or you know someone who doesn’t even go here, you’ll hear the lines you want to hear and they’re delivered with expert timing. In fact there’s lots of great comedic timing throughout – the whole show is very funny indeed.

We were impressed with the quality of the performances, too – there are plenty of well-known names from the world of musical theatre in this production, with the talented cast easily handling some technically demanding vocal parts. There are a few really fantastic ensemble numbers too, with a couple of big choreographed routines towards the start of act one proving to be some early highlights.

A few minor quibbles: it probably goes without saying but Mean Girls is a pretty predictable show – much of this material is well known and for those familiar with the original film there won’t be much in the way of surprises. The songs are a slightly mixed bag, too – there are a handful of decent numbers but most fall into the ‘nice enough’ category. There weren’t many that really stayed with us after we’d left the theatre. The staging looks good, although again we’d say it’s mostly in the ‘simple but effective’ space – it rarely wows.

None of this really matters, however, when a show is as downright enjoyable as the Mean Girls musical is. It’s probably the campest show in London right now, it has some genuinely brilliant jokes and it’s all delivered energetically and enthusiastically by a hugely talented cast. Bring your friends – they can sit with you – and you’ll have a wonderful time.

GAY TIMES gives Mean Girls – 4/5

More information can be found here.