Forget the Movie: See Mean Girls Live in Vancouver Until January 28

All my love to Reneé Rapp, but this incredible musical is only in Vancouver until the end of the week.

Vancouver has Mean Girls fever. And not just for the new movie (which I haven’t seen—yet—but I’ve heard mixed reviews). At yesterday’s opening night of the Broadway Across Canada production, the vibe in the Queen Elizabeth theatre was positively electric. When the first spotlight shone on Damien and Janice, everyone screamed. When Regina entered, everyone screamed. And later, when Regina got hit by a bus… everyone screamed.

Natalie Shaw (Cady Heron), Ethan Jih-Cook (Damian Hubbard), Alexys Morera (Janis Sarkisian), and the Tour Company of Mean Girls. Photo by Jenny Anderson, 2023.

I’ve seen quite a few Broadway Across Canada productions during my time at Vanmag. I cried through Dear Evan Hansen, gasped through Hamilton and existed while Jesus Christ Superstar happened to me (no hate to the performers, I think that show just isn’t for me… don’t tell god). But Mean Girls was the best of them all. If you get the chance to see it before they leave town (there’s shows on until January 28) this is your sign to buy a ticket.

Mean Girls has a cast of 36 individuals, but it seemed like there were hundreds of them somehow concealed behind the curtains—clever blocking, quick costume changes and strong characterization made the whole a lot greater than the sum of its parts. Damien (Ethan Jih-Cook) was an absolute delight (think joyous tap dancing, brilliant comedic timing just overall lovability) and Janice (Alexys Morera) was as badass as they come (the pipes on that gal… holy).

Ethan Jih-Cook (Damian Hubbard) and Alexys Morera (Janis Sarkisian). Photo by Jenny Anderson, 2023.

The singing was spectacular, the dancing was unapologetically fun, and the set was mind-blowing. My face hurt from smiling. And I wasn’t the only one—it felt like the whole audience was absolutely here for it. If you’re not familiar with the musical, I suggest giving the soundtrack a few listens before the show. It’s so exciting to hear a favourite live for the first time (for me, that was “Sexy,” but my new fave after last night is “Revenge Party”).

Maryrose Brendel (Karen Smith), Maya Petropoulos (Regina George), Kristen Amanda Smith (Gretchen Wieners). Photo by Jenny Anderson, 2023.

Because I’m not a regular magazine editor, I’m a cool magazine editor, I’ll be transparent: I was a little thrown off by brunette Regina. For about a second. Maya Petropoulos may not have the blondeness we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in our favourite survivor of vehicular trauma, but to say that has any affect on her performance would be so… not fetch. She slayed “Someone Gets Hurt” and “World Burn” and spent very little time with her feet on the ground (she was being carried so much—it was hilarious).

Now, speaking of slay. The musical is meant to take place in the present. Not in 2004, when the movie premiered, or in 2018, when the musical made it’s Broadway debut. That means that the show incorporates modern themes (like maybe revenge porn is wrong?), technology (emojis and social media aplenty) and language (see: slay).

Alexys Morera (Janis Sarkisian) and the Tour Company of Mean Girls. Photo by Jenny Anderson, 2023.

I had mixed feelings on this. While the contemporary details were funny and timely, they also made the not contemporary details seem even more dated (we forget that a major plot point of the story is tricking Regina into gaining weight so that she becomes less popular, yikes).

That’s about all the criticism I can offer, and I don’t care to dwell on it—like I said, this was my favourite of any Broadway Across Canada show I’ve seen. You’ve got to be hella smart to play Karen (Maryrose Brendel) that dumb. Gretchen’s (Kristen Amanda Smith) desperation for friendship brought back some elementary school trauma I had to laugh at. And, of course, there’s Cady (in our performance, understudy Megan Arseneau), the awkward protagonist that transforms into a truly hateable (but relatable) anti-hero.

Maryrose Brendel (Karen Smith) and the Tour Company of Mean Girls. Photo by Jenny Anderson, 2023.

It’s weird to trumpet the value of seeing Mean Girls live when the movie just came out… especially when the “original” is a movie, not a musical. But in my books, live performance will always beat a big-screen show, and the Broadway Across Canada crew brings so much energy, hilarity and dry-humping to the stage.

Seriously, there is a lot of humping. Grool.

Mean Girls is in Vancouver until February 28, 2024.
Get your tickets here.