Tina Fey’s Mean Girls Opened to Mixed Reviews on Broadway, but the Box Office is Still Strong Due to the Popular Film Upon Which it is Based

Tina Fey’s Broadway Debut Adapted from Popular Film

mean girls
On April 8, 2018, Mean Girls opened at the August Wilson Theatre, where it played previews since March 12, 2018. The buzzed about show, based on the succesful film of the same name has a book by Fey, music by Jeff Richmond (Fey’s husband), and lyrics by Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde). The musical came to Broadway following an out-of-town tryout at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. this past fall. The reviews for that production are almost irrelevant, as the show blazed on ahead to Broadway due to the power of its brand recognition and creative team.

On Broadway (as it was in Washington D.C.), the cast is led by Erika Henningsen (Les Misérables) as Cady Heron, Taylor Louderman (Kinky Boots, Bring It On the Musical) as Regina George, Ashley Park as Gretchen Wieners, Kate Rockwell as Karen Smith, Barrett Wilbert Weed as Janis Sarkisian, Grey Henson as Damian Hubbard, Kerry Butler as Mrs. Heron, Ms. Norbury, and Mrs. George, Kyle Selig as Aaron Samuels, Cheech Manohar as Kevin Gnapoor, and Rick Younger as Mr. Duvall, along with an ensemble.

Mixed Reviews Despite the Buzz

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Ben Brantley of The New York Times called it “likable but seriously over-padded.” Still, he prefers “the jokes, poses and put-downs” of the character Regina George, as written by the “peerless comic writer” Tina Fey, much more than the female interactions portrayed in the show’s competition: Frozen, Anastasia, and Wicked. However, he also states that the show suffers from “indecisiveness,” in spite of the “great time” that he admitted to having whenever Regina strutted her maliciousness across the stage.

The Hollywood Reporter enjoyed the “elevation of Regina George from imperious arbiter of high school hotness to full-blown arch villainess,” calling Taylor Louderman’s performance “divine.” The score was described as falling “into workmanlike pastiche” and “too seldom developing robust melodic hooks,” but “the score at least wins points for democratization,” as each main character gets a big number. AM New York was less generous, mentioning how the show pales in comparison to the musical version of Heathers, which played Off-Broadway. Deadline called “absolutely fetch,” enjoying how it adapted the film “to full musical comedy scale without sacrificing any of the mordancy and compassion.”

A Strong Start at the Box Office

mean girls
Prior to these reviews emerging, the show has already been faring quite well at the box office. Over the 4 weeks of reported box office figures so far, the show has brought in an average of 97.79% of its gross potential. The first three weeks were especially strong, bringing in over 100% of its gross potential. This past week saw a decrease of $292,508 from the week before to reach a weekly gross of $1,176,175, but that may partly be accounted for by the many complimentary tickets that were given out to press to review the piece prior to opening.

In any case, the following weeks will determine whether the show is going to see an impact from these mixed reviews or not, and awards season will further decide upon the longevity of this musical.