“Don’t say you’re sorry for anything you didn’t do” and “never apologize for acting like a boss.” Not the messages you’d expect to hear at a production of traveling-Broadway’s rendition of the 2004 movie Mean Girls, but that’s exactly what is happening at Austin’s Bass Concert Hall now through Sunday, August 7 before heading to San Antonio and Houston later this month.
The Best Musical nominee is slightly modernized – showcasing elements of social media throughout, but also with tweaked messaging, which nearly 20 years after the movie came out is likely much more appropriate for today’s society.
Iconic scenes throughout the musical are fun and entertaining including lines like “she doesn’t even go here” and “that’s so fetch.” But at the same time, while all of this is very humorous, it’s important to consider a storyline with a more empowering tone for young women.
What I appreciate about this modernized musical is how it subtly switches things up at the end when two of the characters question what someone would say if a boy or a man acted the way they were acting. “Strong and original!” was the immediate response, almost taking a jab at the way some storylines portray females.
The conversation is shifting, and it’s necessary. Too often, women are stereotyped as emotional or drama-causing – in many cases being called “mean” or “not nice” in unwarranted cases when they’ve done nothing wrong. And yes, it is reasonable to believe that a lot of those women, particularly in environments like a challenging workplace, do in fact apologize for things they did not do.
I’m not saying that the behavior of the girls in Mean Girls isn’t bad. But I do wonder if productions like these may contribute to the way women are viewed. Also, sometimes high school guys and adult men are also mean – and we don’t have an entire movie or Broadway show about that.
Realistically, women have high levels of empathy, kindness, and a strong ability to see perspectives of others. Though only 8.1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, in a recent study reported by the Harvard Business Review, women outscored men in 17 out of 19 leadership capabilities.
As the conversation changes, a classic Mean Girls storyline that we can all get behind is the overall lesson of authenticity and being true to oneself. The production also calls out another potential problem, in which women may be easily pitted against one another, but also shows a positive resolution – with everyone coming together in the end.
Another positive element is not letting anyone dim your light, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. The play showcases this as character Aaron Samuels likes Cady Heron best when she is acting like her normal self and over-achieving in math.
Dubbed “It’s not a regular musical. It’s a cool musical!” by Entertainment Week, an abundance of talent filled the stage with a special emphasis on an amazing performance completed by Morgan Ashley Bryant who plays Karen Smith. Keeping the audience laughing, Bryant adds a certain entertaining flare and unpredictability throughout the play. The way scenes are changed using both props and some electronic screens is also very creative and enjoyable to watch.
A list of notable names, book writer Tina Fey (30 Rock), composer Jeff Richmond (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde), and director Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon) produce an excellent show.
Highly recommendable for anyone ages 10 and older, tickets to Mean Girls start at $30 and can be purchased online. Mean Girls will also be at Majestic Theatre in San Antonio Aug. 9-14 and at the Hobby Center in Houston Aug. 16-22.
Cover photo from Jenny Anderson.
Britni Rachal lives in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance journalist, full-time marketer, and a Realtor®. In addition to writing, Rachal enjoys traveling, event planning, fashion, fitness and serving the Austin community.