Mater Dei students shine in dual-enrollment production of Mean Girls Jr.

Regina George (Lily Hirsch), Karen Smith (Marieke Erhard) and Gretchen Wieners (Emma Buchanan) show Cady Heron (Giana Garcia) the iconic burn book. Photo courtesy of: Grace Henze

Gasps filled the room when blinding lights and a loud crash echoed throughout the auditorium. The moment when Regina George got hit by a bus was even better in person. The iconic scene in Tina Fey’s 2004 classic film Mean Girls was a moment I never thought I needed to see until it was performed by SAC’s Theater program. 

Legendary scenes were brought to life when SAC’s Theater Arts dual-enrollment program with Mater Dei performed their senior musical, Mean Girls Jr. at Phillips Hall April 25-27. 

As a big fan of the original film and the musical remake that was released earlier this year, the theater arts program’s rendition was very fitting to the play. The story being portrayed by actual high schoolers and not actors in their early to mid-20s gave the production a realistic approach. 

The show stars Cady Heron (Giana Garcia), a homeschooled student who grew up in Africa and moves to the suburbs. The film and musical follow her journey through the terrors of a public high school where she meets Damian (DJ Clancy) and Janis (Brooke Becker) who try to help her find her way around her new environment. Garcia as the lead showcased her talent through numerous solos that embodied Cady’s desire to fit in: “Yes, I know they have their friends, but what is one more friend?”.

Janis (Brooke Becker) and Damian (DJ Clancy) receive audience applause on their performance. Photo courtesy of: Grace Henze

In between each introduction to a significant character, the ensemble performed upbeat songs and complimented each other’s voices very theatrically. The cast wore clothes that seemed like they pulled from their own closets in this case, were spot on. 

Cady develops a huge crush on Aaron Samuels (Pierce Harvey), which develops  through their interaction in their calculus class in the films. While some of Aaron’s scenes were condensed, Garcia sold the giddy energy of their interactions with expressive facial reactions after every encounter with Aaron. 

Cady Heron (Giana Garcia) and Aaron Samuels (Pierce Harvey) talking in Cady’s bedroom about her growing up in Africa. Photo courtesy of: Grace Henze

The title of the show refers to the Plastics, a group of three girls that rule the school in their high heels, mini skirts and deathly stares. Karen Smith (Marieke Erhard) and Gretchen Wieners (Emma Buchanan) embodied their characters as the sidekicks that aimlessly follow their leader Regina George (Lily Hirsch), “the queen of the beasts.”

The best performance of the night had to go to Hirsch, playing Regina. In some scenes, Hirsch sounded almost like Renee Rapp who plays Regina George in the Broadway production. She captured the sassiness and arrogance that this character personifies and I was constantly waiting for her next appearance on stage.

From the moment the three girls dressed in all pink, mini skirts and heels grazed the stage on top of the moving lunch table to represent their superiority to the school, I instantly noticed a big resemblance to the performers in the original Broadway musical from their dynamic portrayal of a cliche mean girl. In some scenes, the girls sounded like the original actors in tone and voice. 

The senior musical incorporated a cast of performers with varying theatrical experience, but it was clear that the Plastics were experienced performers. 

The delay in between scenes was worth the wait because the production was stunning and captured the essence of the film with vibrant colors and realistic looking sets such as the high school cafeteria. 

Some props in particular that showcased the production’s talent were the large pink bed and room decorations Regina’s bedroom. I would expect nothing less than Regina having a bed that matches her skirts and heels. 

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The scene where Regina gets hit by a moving bus because of her argument with Cady was my favorite part of the night. All the audience saw was bright lights that filled the auditorium and the sound of the crash echoing around Phillips Hall. This was a part of the musical that I knew was coming but was not prepared for. It shocked me. 

During the Halloween party scene where Cady gets invited to her first high school party, the skeletons in the background were almost identical to the ones seen in the original musical. The only aspect that I felt was missing from that scene was Karen Smith’s performance of the song “Sexy” composed by Nell Benjamin.

The Plastics at Aaron Samuels’ Halloween party. Photo courtesy of: Grace Henze

“Sexy,” one of my favorite songs in the musical, was completely cut from the performance, and based on how Erhard nailed her role of Karen Smith, I would have loved to see her take on that song. 

Hirsch as Regina was a memorable vocalist and displayed her capabilities through “Meet the Plastics” and “World Burn,” but that was another song that was cut short. Despite Hirsch executing her performances, the entire duration of “World Burn” would have shown her wide vocal range.

As in the film Cady infiltrates her way into the Plastics, she loses a sense of herself and becomes focused on her newfound popularity. Throughout the show, Garcia’s costumes went from long cargo shorts and safari vests to tiny skirts and revealing tops to reflect the character’s inner change. 

As Cady dives in her new friend group, the Plastics, they inform her on a rule that on Wednesdays they all wear pink. Cady has to borrow a shirt from her friend Damian which ends up being an oversized hot pink polo. This now-iconic outfit was worn by Garcia just as good as Lindsay Lohan. 

The ending of the musical also featured a beloved look from Cady when she has to compete in a mathletes competition to receive extra credit to make up for playing dumb to get Aaron to tutor her. The outfit is brown khaki pants with a yellow and blue letterman jacket over a blue polo. This look sealed the deal on Garcia’s role as Cady. 

The audience cheered and clapped as the performers completed opening night of the musical. Photo courtesy of: Grace Henze

The timing of this production was perfect due to the film version of the musical that was released early this year.

The musical was a feel-good performance and a good send off to the Mater Dei seniors as their final performance. The audience cheered and clapped in between each song and the friends and family of the performers smiled proudly as they held flowers to give to the student. What better way to close out four years than to perform Mean Girls Jr.? After all, who plays high schoolers better than high schoolers do?


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