Critics Say ‘Mean Girls’ Musical is Pretty Fetch

In the 2004 film “Mean Girls,” Regina George – queen of the Plastics – told her fellow clique member Gretchen: ‘Stop trying to make fetch happen.’ Two decades later, writer Tina Fey has finally made fetch happen with her West End musical adaptation.

The Telegraph praised the show for its ‘rare combination of warmth, goofiness, snarky wit, and perceptiveness’ in a four-star review. Dominic Cavendish wrote, ‘This snarky adaptation never allows a dull minute, even if its general thrust is cosily predictable.’

Another four-star review from the i newspaper called the show a ‘whooping hit’ filled with ‘a riot of peppy, poppy songs.’ The musical, which first debuted on Broadway in 2018, initially received a lukewarm response from New York critics but garnered 12 Tony Award nominations. With some tweaks, it has now arrived in London.

The premise of the musical remains true to the original film, where ‘fetch’ is slang for cool, but the jokes and language have been updated for Gen Z. Jesus is referred to as a ‘nepo baby,’ the girls are ‘slaying,’ and social media filters are all the rage. Speaking to the BBC at the premiere, Fey said the show needed updating from the 2004 film because ‘the way teens speak and interact with each other is different.’

‘I have two teenage daughters and I wanted to make sure this new version rings true for them,’ she said. Fey’s husband, Jeff Richmond, who composed the songs for the musical, added that teenagers nowadays ‘are smarter, bright, and a lot more aware about what is going on in society.’

Fey expressed pride in having created ‘five female leads that are so distinctively different.’

A three-star review from The Times praised actress Georgina Castle, who plays Regina – the long-legged, super blonde queen bee who rules over her ruthlessly materialistic brood, the Plastics. Critic Clive Davis said Castle was ‘convincingly steely,’ but ‘best of all is Tom Xander’s camp outsider, Damian, who worships at the shrine of George Michael and launches cheerful barbs in all directions.’

Xander told the BBC the updated musical ‘shows society as a lot more accepting.’ ‘Playing an openly gay character – I don’t think that when I was a teenager it would have been widely accepted, but now it is and that’s something we should be really proud of.’

The Guardian commended Xander and co-star Elena Skye, who plays his art-freak companion Janis. Chris Wiegand said they ‘make a charming double act and Skye is superb singing the bird-flipping anthem “I’d Rather Be Me”.’ However, Wiegand’s three-star review noted that despite the ‘high-grade performances, the songs and production don’t get quite enough As.’ He added that the musical doesn’t have ‘one killer tune,’ and some of the ‘bland songs result in a sometimes flat production.’

Adam Bloodworth from City AM disagreed, saying Nell Benjamin’s ‘pumping musical score neatly translates the sassy characters’ stories.’ His four-star review said: ‘Instant earworms include “My Name Is Regina George” and “Revenge Party,” two of a gamut of well-constructed pop bangers.’ Bloodworth also praised Castle as a ‘genuine threat’ who plays Regina as ‘more sticky and formidable than ditzy.’

Meanwhile, Charlie Burn, who plays new girl Cady, is ‘very good at the switch between kind, clever Cady and horrible, manipulative Cady,’ according to the Independent. However, the outlet’s Tim Bano didn’t think the show was particularly fetch overall. His two-star review said it doesn’t ‘go near any of the concerns of high school kids today, and instead assumes that enough has stayed the same for the story to work.’

‘I don’t think that’s the case, and we end up with a show that’s pulling itself between past and present,’ he added.

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