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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
A&E >  Entertainment

Review: You can watch hilarious ‘Mean Girls’ with us at First Interstate Center

By Taylor D. Waring For The Spokesman-Review

The hilarious musical “Mean Girls,” part of the STCU Best of Broadway series, began its run at First Interstate Center for the Arts on Tuesday night to a full house. Based on Tina Fey’s popular coming-of-age comedy, the Lorne Michaels production features music by Jeff Richards (“30 Rock”) and lyrics from Nell Benjamin (“Legally Blonde”). With tons of quick wit and neon lights, Spokane was treated to a night of high-energy laughs, cute outfits and teen drama.

The production reimagines “Mean Girls” in a vibrant musical format, though it contains some updating to keep things fresh. Early on, Mr. Duvall references Drogon from “Game of Thrones,” Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman) named himself Lady Gaga in French class, and at one point the main character Cady Heron (Danielle Wade) stresses over captioning a selfie. Thanks to Fey’s excellent writing, the jokes feel fresh and original, as if they’d always been there.

Wade portrayed Cady, a young woman thrown from her secluded life in Kenya into the wilds of North Shore High School. There, she finds herself torn between two friend groups as she navigates love, popularity and morality. Wade’s standout moments included “It Roars” and “More Is Better,” a duet with Cady’s paramour Aaron Samuels (Adante Carter).

The first group of friends, Damian and Janis Sarkisian (Mary Kate Morrisey), serves as the musical’s chorus, which works well for their roles as relatable outsiders. Morrisey’s performance as the social outcast is phenomenal, with powerful backup and lead deliverances. Her performance of “I’d Rather Be Me” is exceptional, at times referencing grunge music (well, as much as you’d expect from a Broadway production of “Mean Girls”).

The second group is the legendary heels, the Plastics, a collection of narcissistic teen drama queens led by Regina George (Nadina Hassan). The musical format allows audiences to have more intimate access to the characters, which added a new layer to the classic narrative. We learn more about Gretchen Wiener’s (Megan Masako Haley) insecurities in songs like “What’s Wrong With Me” and Regina’s sense of dehumanization in her lyrics throughout.

Hassan was outstanding throughout the night, naturally embodying the over-the-top diva. Throughout, her songs have a darker, retro and jazzy vibe that make them stick out sonically. From the moment she enters the stage in “Meet the Plastics” atop a moving cafeteria table, we know she’s a force. “World Burn” broadcasts the actress’s stunning vocal range and stage presence.

With that said, Becca Peterson as the admittedly dumb (but wickedly funny) Kate Smith in many ways stole the show. The actress, who was filling in for Jonalyn Saxer, delivered hilarious one-liners throughout the show as her character broke the fourth wall. The best moment of this was in “Sexy” in which she starts the number over after realizing she should wish for world peace before it being Halloween every day and not the other way around.

The STCU Best of Broadway series continues to bring a list of hits to First Interstate Center for the Arts, and “Mean Girls” was no exception. From packed restaurants before the show to a packed house, it’s clear that Spokane is hungry for great shows.

“Mean Girls” continues its Spokane run through Sunday.

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