by Alessia Salimbene
Most of the world knows Mean Girls from popular culture, so recreating the iconic movie is quite a feat. But with an inside look from three of the show’s actors, it seems to have been placed in the proper hands.
When Devon Hadsell was asked about the pressure of bringing Mean Girls to the stage she said, “There’s definitely pressure that comes along with it because we want to honor the style and characters from the movie while also making it our own.” And it’s so easy to see where that pressure can come from! The popularity for the movie only grows every year, the New Yorker calling it a “classic”, with people all over the world wearing pink on Wednesdays. Everyone already has their Burn Books ready. But seeing these actors honoring their craft makes for truthful work the audience will no doubt enjoy.
Stephanie Bissonnette chimed in that “One thing that I think is so special about this show is the fact that every single member of the cast has a name. Each ensemble member has a fully developed character.”
Creating a new musical can be difficult, but this show has both stellar creators to guide them. During their recent out-of-town run in Washington D.C. Hadsell detailed the rehearsal and show process: “We normally had a five-hour rehearsal where we would receive new lines and changes in choreography that we had to apply in the show that same night.”
There’s a few things that Stephanie and Devon love about going out of town. They both agree that getting to bond with their fellow cast members as well as meeting fans from around the country makes it all work it. As Bissonnette says, “The best part of the out of town run was bonding with the cast! We celebrated so many birthdays! We became such a tight knit family spending our free time together exploring DC.” And Hadsell loving the fans, “The best part about doing out-of-town runs is meeting fans after the show who have traveled from all over to come see the musical before it goes to Broadway!” Thousands have already enjoyed the show and thousands more to come before the show’s opening night this April.
I also talked to them about modernizing the show in a world full of cyber-bullying and countless Regina Georges. This show has been brought into the future with the Plastics having iPhones, as Bissonnette says, “I think it really showcases how social media has only enhanced the way real ‘Mean Girls’ out there can spread their messages far and wide.”., but the classic meanness never goes away. Cast member Riza Takahashi talked about how one fan opened up to her about her own Regina George, “At the stage door in D.C., one little teenage girl was brave enough tell me about her story of her own ‘Mean Girls’ at her school. I hope this show can inspire not only the young adults but also others who see the show to be more open minded and kind to each other so that the world has less people who are like Regina George.”
Hadsell said that, “modernizing the story has been effective in my opinion because it relates to high schoolers of today’s generations. They’re able to watch the show and think, ‘Yeah, that is EXACTLY how it is at school,’ and be affected by it. I hope that fans walk away with the message that it’s okay not to vibe with someone, but you don’t have to be mean to them for that reason. Respect the fact that they’re different and allow them to live their life just like you want to live yours. That’s thebeauty of this world. We’re all different. Let’s embrace it!”.
Bissonnette says it best, “I think Mean Girls is the perfect musical for everyone out there who has ever felt like an outcast. These characters all have their moments where they are so relatable. I hope that it reignites fans to remember to surround yourself with people who support you. Furthermore I hope that everyone leaves the show and realizes that even if you’re not best friends with someone, you can be kind and coexist with them.”
Riza Takahashi has her own take on how this whirlwind experience has been: “It’s been so surreal to be a part of this whole process. To bring this iconic movie to the stage is such an honor but there’s definitely a pressure every time I step on stage in hopes of being able to give the audience a performance of their expectations and also to leave them with the feeling that only live theater can present.”