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Theatre / Mean Girls

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"You'll be judged on sight
And made to fit
So find a clique and stick with it
Say, where do you belong?"
— "Where Do You Belong?"

Mean Girls is the musical adaptation of the 2004 film of the same name. Tina Fey, writer of the film's screenplay, wrote the musical's book, while the music and lyrics are penned by Jeff Richmond (Fey's husband) and Nell Benjamin (of Legally Blonde fame), respectively. After five years of development and a test run in Washington, D.C., Mean Girls officially opened on Broadway in April 2018.

The musical more or less follows the plot of the film: New Transfer Student Cady Heron integrates herself with the Alpha Bitch, Regina George, and her Girl Posse the Plastics. At the behest of her other friends, outcasts Janis and Damian, it evolves into an attempt to take Regina down... but Cady becomes a little full of herself in the process. Lessons get learned, but not without gossip, backstabbing, and love triangles along the way.

Certain changes made to the setting and its characters in the transition to the stage: most notably, its story is brought into the The New '10s, with social media playing a substantial role that didn't exist in the film (which predates Twitter and the like), and updated cultural references, such as the POTUS in office when it debuted.

In January 2020, it was announced that the musical would be adapted into a film, which will release on January 12, 2024. The cast includes Angourie Rice as Cady, Reneé Rapp as Regina (whom she also portrayed on Broadway), Auli'i Cravalho as Janis, and Jaquel Spivey (A Strange Loop) as Damian, with Fey once again adapting the screenplay.

"Stupid With Tropes:"

  • Gretchen is much worse at keeping secrets than her movie persona was.
  • Adaptational Dye-Job:
    • Cady is portrayed with red hair in the film, but in the musical, original cast member Erika Henningsen wears a straight light brown wig for the first part, and later switches to a curly blonde one as part of Cady's transformation into a plastic.
    • Janis has (dyed) pitch black hair in the film, but here she has a black-blonde ombre style.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: This version of Aaron isn't as oblivious as his movie counterpart. He's roughly as smart as Cady, and his intelligence (or lack thereof) isn't remarked on. This is in stark contrast to his movie self, who struggles to understand basic math.
  • Adaptational Name Change:
    • Janis Ian becomes Janis Sarkisian.
    • Damian Lewis becomes Damian Hubbard.
    • Subverted with Kevin Gnapoor, who is established as having a different first name here than in the film; he chooses to call himself Kevin, instead of being born with the name.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Unlike the film which depicts her as straight, Janis's sexuality is left ambiguous. In this version, when Regina confronted Janis and asked what her sexuality was, Janis refused to say. Whether this was because she was so insulted that Regina maliciously disregarded her privacy, because she was struggling with her sexuality and wasn't sure how to define herself, because she is a lesbian or bisexual and was too scared to reveal so, or a combination of any of the above is left up to the viewer to decide. Janis's actress Barrett Wilbert Weed said in an interview that while Fey left Janis's sexuality ambiguous, she also left it up to Weed to decide. Though there is no direct reference, Janis, at least Weed, the original actress's version, is a lesbian.
  • "Anger Is Healthy" Aesop: Discussed in "I'd Rather Be Me", where Janice declares she'd rather fight openly when someone makes her mad than try to hide it with passive aggressive mind games like the girls around her are socialized to behave, so they can actually work out their problems instead of letting them fester. Others around her cheer this on.
  • Auto-Incorrect: Cady sends Aaron a text about Regina cheating on him, but it comes out as "regionals is chewing on you". The second half of the message about a "lion costume" is thought to be this, but was actually correct.
  • Badass Boast: Regina frequently flaunts her status as attractive and popular, declaring herself to be a "massive deal". Her entire part of "Meet the Plastics" probably qualifies as this.
  • Bad Girl Song: Pretty much any number performed by Regina brags about her Alpha Bitch status and has her flaunt her power over everybody else.
  • Beat Without a "But": In "Meet the Plastics," Karen ends her verse by singing "My name is Karen, I may not be smart... (beat) that's it."
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Much like in the film, Cady's Halloween costume, however as the people in the cheap seats need to see this the amount of blood is ramped way up from the film version.
  • Cardboard Box of Unemployment: Seeing Ms. Norbury escorted out of school with a Bankers Box is what finally prompts Cady to speak up and take responsibility for her behavior. Cady had written "Ms. Norbury is a sad old drug pusher" in the Burn Book when she was upset with Norbury for "pushing" her to do better in Calculus, thinking that no-one would ever read it. But once the pages of the Burn Book are published by Regina, students' parents demand that Norbury be fired in case there's any truth to the allegations. Cady takes credit for fabricating the entire Burn Book (not just the page she had written about Norbury). As a result, Cady receives a suspension from school, but Norbury gets her job back.
  • Colorblind Casting:
    • An East Asian actress portrays Gretchen in the original Broadway cast, but the character is still referred to as Jewish. Could potentially be intentional, as it is obviously possible for someone to have both East Asian and Jewish heritage (or for an Asian family to have adopted Judaism, or for a Jewish family to have adopted an Asian child), and Gretchen did join the "cool Asians" clique at the end of the film.
    • Krystina Alabado, who as of March 13, 2019, replaces Ashley Park, is Lebanese and Mexican.
    • Gretchen and Damian both have understudies who are African-American, and Janis has an understudy who's Japanese.
  • Composite Character: To some extent, Ms. Norbury, Mrs. George and Mrs. Heron all represent a singular, older female perspective to the younger women. That they're all played by the same actor makes it a bit more obvious.
  • Curse Cut Short: During the Mathletes State Championships, Cady nearly drops an F-bomb, with her habit of combining words when she gets nervous, but she's interrupted by the emcee:
    Cady: Oh shuck. I meant to say "shoot" but I started saying "fu-"
  • Dark Reprise: Actually a few examples:
    • The "It Roars" reprise happens directly after the original version but it is set after Cady realizes that High School isn't gonna be as fun as she thought it would be during the first version.
    • Though the first version of "Someone Gets Hurt" isn't exactly light and fluffy, its reprise occurs during the breakdown of Cady's friendship with Damien and Janis, with Janis seeming on the verge of tears.
    • "World Burn" has Regina reprising her section of "Meet the Plastics" throughout. However, originally Regina was singing about how she ruled the school, now she's singing about her plan to destroy every relationship in school.
    • "Fearless" gets a rather depressing reprise where Cady has lost everything. Before the characters were singing about being fearless, now Cady is singing it about how she isn't.
  • Demoted to Extra: Coach Carr, who was already a minor character in the film, only appears in the show for about two scenes. The subplot regarding his attraction to students has also (understandably) been removed.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Twice in "Revenge Party".
    Janis: Imagine a party with dresses and cake. And singing and dancing and cake.
    Damian/Janis: [later] It’s a revenge party, with your two best friends - it’s like a party with revenge is what it’s like!
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Karen’s “Rule Of Two,” about how everything has two sides, helps Cady gain better perspective of her situation. Karen also questions why boys are taught not to leak girls’ nudes, a point so sapient it still eludes some adults today.
  • E = MC Hammer: Ms. Norbury's calculus class in the professionally taped version of "Stupid with Love". The board reads lim(x+1) as x=>2, but out loud Miss Norbury says "if I write out the function the limit as x approaches 2 of x plus 1, the function is what we're taking the limit of." Not only does this not match what is written on the board, the statement itself is utter nonsense. Cady then gives the random answer of "x=3," which makes no sense in context because she was asked about a limit, not a value of x. Miss Norbury then tells the class to "find the value of k for which the limit exists," and that they must cancel x-3 from the denominator for it to exist. She does this all without giving the class the limit in question, only writing "k= " on the board. Cady then answers "x=-3", and her random answer is apparently correct.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number:
    • "Do This Thing" is the climax of Cady's character development before the finale.
    • "I'd Rather Be Me" also qualifies.
  • Euphemistic Names: In "Meet the Plastics", Janis and Damian recall the time the titular trio made fun of Jen Morecock — one of the teachers — due to her name.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Janis and Damian serve as the narrators here, rather than Cady as in the film.
  • Framing Device: Janis and Damian, as narrators, are telling the story of the previous school year as a "cautionary tale" to the incoming freshman class of North Shore High.
  • Greek Chorus: Janis and Damian fulfill this role.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The moral of the story, stated by Janis and Damian, is that all power corrupts and that no matter how mean someone is, they're still human and stooping to their level by bullying them back is never the answer.
  • Incestuous Casting: In-universe. In "Stop", Damian tells Cady about how he became jealous when a girl played a romantic part opposite of a guy he liked, and that he spent four weeks trolling her online via an array of alternative accounts. He later found out that the girl was the guy's sister.
  • Inevitable Mutual Betrayal: Sung about in "What's Wrong with Me".
    Gretchen: Though we both know one day / There'll be blood on the floor / But which one will betray the other more?
  • "I Want" Song: "Stupid with Love" is about Cady's longing for Aaron.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Aaron's good looks (and six-pack) are put on display at a few points in the musical.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Kevin G's rap is put to an end before it can start.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • During "Stop", Damian mentions "word vomit". This was a running theme for Cady in the movie.
    • There are pages from the Burn Book projected onto the stage prior to the show. One page accuses a girl of masturbating with a hot dog. This is the original, raunchier draft of the infamous gag that became "made out with a hot dog" in the film.
  • Never My Fault: The musical makes a point of saying that even the least culpable characters are complicit in bullying in some form or another. Janis is hesitant to talk to Cady at the end because she knows that, if Cady apologizes, she'll have to own up to manipulating Cady and mistakenly assuming that bullying Regina for revenge wasn't wrong even if Regina was an awful person.
  • Non P.O.V. Protagonist: While Cady is also the narrator of her story in the film, Janis and Damian play the narrators of the story.
  • Original Cast Precedent: Asian actress Ashley Park originated Gretchen in both Washington, DC and on Broadway. Her Broadway replacement Krystina Alabado and the national tour Gretchen, Megan Masako Haley, are both of partial Asian descent (Alabado being Lebanese and Mexican, Masako Haley being hapa).
  • Painful Rhyme: This gem from Kevin, when Cady's forced to join the Mathletes. Lampshaded immediately, of course.
    Kevin: Cady, you tried the fast life. Embrace the math life!
    Marwan: That's a forced rhyme—
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The scene where Janis and Damian confront Cady after the party is retained, but instead of them arriving in Damian's car, they show up on a scooter.
    • The gag where Gretchen falls on Karen after her half-assed apology is removed, since this kind of stunt would've been far too dangerous for the stage.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Inverted. In the movie Janis and Kevin, captain of the Mathletes become a couple. In the musical however, due to Janis undergoing Adaptational Sexuality, they don't get together.
  • Race Lift:
    • At least in the original Broadway cast, Gretchen is played by an Asian actress, Ashley Park, rather than the white Lacey Chabert. The character retains her Jewish heritage, though. One of Ashley's understudies, Zurin Villanueva, is African-American with a bit of Hispanic. Another, Ashley De La Rosa, is also this.
      • This Instagram post shows Ashley De La Rosa being Regina George for that performance instead of the white Taylor Louderman.
    • Park had her last night as Gretchen on March 10, 2019. Krystina Alabado, a Lebanese/Mexican actor, took over on March 13.
    • Grey Henson (Damian) has Demarcus Copes as his African-American understudy.
    • One of Barrett Wilbert Weed's (Janis) understudies is Riza Takahashi, who is Japanese.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Janis' response to Regina asking her if she was a lesbian. note 
    12-year-old Janis: I... am a SPACE ALIEN and I have FOUR BUTTS!
    Damian: It was a bad choice.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: The musical explains the presence of the Burn Book in a setting dominated by social media by saying that it's something that the Plastics used to use and have since forgotten about.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "I'd Rather Be Me" is this to Cady and Regina.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Much like in the film, Aaron is a more of tertiary character than anything else, but he does get a little more depth than his cinematic counterpart.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: Based on the film of the same name.
  • Setting Introduction Song: "Where Do You Belong?" is Janis and Damian's official introduction to Cady.
  • Setting Update: From early 2000s to late 2010s. This leads to the major change of social media and cyberbullying being integrated into the plot.
  • Sexy Whatever Outfit: "Sexy" is a whole song about these. Karen loves Halloween because she can be whatever she wants—as long as whatever she wants to be is hot, that is. The list starts with "sexy corn" and gets steadily more absurd.
    Karen: I can be a sexy doctor, and cure some sexy cancer! [beat] That's not right, is it?
    Gretchen: No.
    Karen: I can sexy cure some cancer!
    Gretchen: No!
  • Song Style Shift: Four times in "Meet the Plastics". Regina’s part is a Bad Girl Song about how she's drunk with power (and comes back in "World Burn"), Gretchen's is a frantic Patter Song, and Karen’s is reminiscent of a Disney Princess song or a music box melody. The ending is a Counterpoint Duet until the ending when the Plastics and Cady sing in unison.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The finale "I See Stars" reprises a part of "More Is Better"; the original song is about Cady losing herself while the reprise is about how Cady has learned that people should be themselves.
  • Villain Song: "World Burn" is Regina's most villainous moment in the show.
    • She also has "Someone Gets Hurt" where she turns on Cady and takes Aaron back.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Happens to Regina during the talent show, due to the fact that (thanks to the Kalteen bars) her skirt no longer fits and the makeshift holders she created for it failed mid-performance. This incident goes viral on Instagram, and causes Regina to begin falling out of favor with the student body.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Janis's reprise of "Someone Gets Hurt."


Video Example(s):


Sexy (Mean Girls)

Karen describes the strange sexy costumes at the costume party

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / SexyWhateverOutfit

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