Hi, I'm Morgan! I'm a twenty-something theater critic and writer (which really just means I've been a Theater Kid my whole life but now I'm an adult) based somewhere between Baltimore and Washington DC. 

Hopefully, I can help you discover a new show or the next song that will be stuck in your head for weeks on end.

I've been a theater writer since 2016, and I'm so excited to share my passion for the arts with you! Happy reading!

Welcome to Intermission!

Me in front of the harbor that houses the Statue of Liberty in New York City

Review: The “Mean Girls” Musical is Like, Really Good

What began just as another 2000s teen movie has since become a cultural phenomenon. Arguably one of the most quoted and easily recognized films of its gene, “Mean Girls” gets a new life in this hilarious musical adaptation. With a laugh-out-loud book from Tina Fey (as if we could get anything else from her) and tried-and-true direction/choreography from Casey Nicholaw, the “Mean Girls” musical is like, so fetch.

English Bernhardt (Cady Heron)

Based on the 2004 film of the same name, the musical tells the story of North Shore High School new girl Cady Heron (English Bernhardt) as she learns to navigate the jungle that is public high school after growing up in Kenya. She is taken in by lovable art freaks Janis Sarkisian (Lindsay Heather Pearce) and Damian Hubbard (Eric Huffman), who serve as narrators throughout the story. When Cady catches the attention of Queen Bee Regina George (Nadina Hassan) and her fellow Plastics Gretchen Wieners (Jasmine Rogers) and Karen Smith (Morgan Ashley Bryant), Janis and Damian convince Cady to befriend them for their amusement.

Pictured (L-R): Eric Huffman (Damian Hubbard) and Lindsay Heather Pearce (Janis Sarkisian)

Bernhardt shines as the adorable, geeky Cady as she desperately tries to fit in and find her way on her first day of school. Her smile is infectious as she bounces from one musical number to the next, hitting each note with outrageous facial expressions and dynamic physicality. With sky high energy and a gorgeous voice to match, Bernhardt’s performance is perfection from start to finish.

Pictured (L-R): Jasmine Rogers (Gretchen Wieners), Nadina Hassan (Regina George), Morgan Ashley Bryant (Karen Smith) and English Bernhardt (Cady Heron)

If you are somehow able to pull your attention away from Bernhardt, Pearce will certainly grab it. Fresh out of Oz and her time as Elphaba on Broadway, Pearce steals the show from the moment she opens her mouth. Her powerful voice fills the room every time, and her number “I’d Rather Be Me” is the goosebump-raising, spine-tingling anthem that I guarantee will be stuck in your head for days. Combined with her fabulous fishnet stockings and lovingly painted jackets, this fiercely badass character is the defender, protector, and friend we should all be so lucky to have.

Lindsay Heather Pearce (Janis Sarkisian) and the National Touring Company of "Mean Girls"

Of course, one cannot discuss “Mean Girls” without discussing The Plastics (it is worth mentioning that the current cast is the first time all three Plastics are played by women of color eight shows a week). Regina George is one of the most notorious movie villains of her generation, and Nadina Hassan does not disappoint. Reigning over her kingdom with an icy stare that manages to be both menacing and nonchalant, Hassan’s number “World Burn” is truly terrifying. Standing high above her subjects, I see the appeal. With a casual toss of her hair and pop of her hip, Hassan radiates a sort of easy, seductive power that inspires fear, but also a desperate need for approval, all while belting out unforgettable, jaw dropping notes and effortlessly gliding across the stage in her towering stilettos.

Nadina Hassan (Regina George)

While the musical keeps all of the best parts of the original film (you go, Glen Coco), it also manages to add depth and a new level of emotion to these lovable characters. Rogers is hilarious as the neurotic head-of-worker-bees Gretchen Wieners while still bringing a sort of soft sincerity to the role. Her heartbreaking number “What’s Wrong With Me” is a moment of stillness in this otherwise nonstop production as she asks the question most, if not all, of us fear: Why aren’t I enough?

Jasmine Rogers (Gretchen Wieners) and English Bernhardt (Cady Heron)

Karen Smith is another one that (thankfully) was given more substance in this musical adaptation. Bryant serves as hilarious comic relief in her absurdly outlandish but wildly catchy number “Sexy.” As dancers prance around as sexy corn, sexy sharks, sexy Eleanor Roosevelt, and sexy Rosa Parks, Bryant finally gets a chance to prove her vocal chops. But she too gets her moment of quiet honesty, adding a level of integrity to her lovable character.

Huffman is the other standout as the lovable Damian. Thankfully, the production gives him ample opportunity to show off, particularly in the opening tap number of Act II, “Stop.” With flamboyantly fabulous energy and the best one liners of the show, Huffman is pure entertainment from start to finish.

Morgan Ashley Bryant (Karen Smith) and the National Touring Company of "Mean Girls"

Unfortunately, the hunky Aaron Samuels seemed to miss this memo. This is by no fault of actor Adante Carter, who in fact does a lovely job with the material he’s given, and sings with a voice is as dreamy as his character. Aaron is not bad by any means, but he’s a bit, shall we say, lackluster, when compared to his female counterparts.

Pictured (L-R): Adante Carter (Aaron Samuels) and English Bernhardt (Cady Heron)

Perhaps one of the most memorable lines in the film discusses clothing and fashion of the era. You know the one…. “On Wednesdays, we wear pink!” This has become not only a quintessential staple of pop culture references, but in the idea of fashion as well. I think it’s safe to say the fashion and color palette of the 2000s defined a generation. Although the musical version of “Mean Girls” is set in present day, costume designer extraordinaire Gregg Barnes includes subtle odes to the fashion that was the dream of oh so many back when the film was first released. Pink leather jackets, mini slip dresses, and flouncy ruffle skirts all have a place on the Mean Girls stage as the costumes become a character of their own.

Pictured (L-R): English Bernhardt (Cady Heron), Jasmine Rogers (Gretchen Wieners), Nadina Hassan (Regina George), Morgan Ashley Bryant (Karen Smith), Lindsay Heather Pearce (Janis Sarkisian) and the National Touring Company of "Mean Girls"

From the very beginning, the productions reads like a love letter to theater. Drawing on inspiration from famed musicals of Broadway’s past (and present), the production lovingly makes fun of the really quite ridiculous practice we somehow still love and come back to again and again. Homages to “The Lion King,” “Wicked,” and “Hamilton” all have a place on the stage while still capturing the frightening energy that is public high school in the United States. While this theme can be found throughout the show, perhaps the most obvious moment is the Act I number “Where Do You Belong?” A la “High School Musical” style, the cafeteria is divided into cliques, and while the number jokingly calls out high school stereotypes (over-caffeinated theater kids, the dance team, the junior achievers, and the band kids are just a few examples), it’s almost unfortunately accurate.

Pictured (L-R): Eric Huffman (Damian Hubbard) and the National Touring Company of "Mean Girls"

Although “Mean Girls” serves as a powerful message about expression, acceptance, and social media, it does so with a hilarious and colorful touch. From start to finish, the production’s entertainment value is sky high, with a clever book and gorgeous score (music by Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin) to match.

Pictured (L-R): Morgan Ashley Bryant (Karen Smith), Nadina Hassan (Regina George), Jasmine Rogers (Gretchen Wieners), and English Bernhardt (Cady Heron)

“Mean Girls” will run at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore through July 17, 2022. The production runs 2 hours and 30 minutes and includes one intermission. Recommended for ages 10 and up. Tickets can be purchased here.

All photo credit to Jenny Anderson