'Mean Girls' review — this spectacularly funny musical adaptation totally makes fetch happen

Read our review of Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin's Mean Girls, now in performances at the Savoy Theatre to 16 February 2025.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

Get in, loser – we’re finally going to Mean Girls in the West End! It’s been a six-year wait since the stage musical version of the 2004 film comedy premiered on Broadway, with Tina Fey adapting her own genius script, and unlike the undercooked movie-musical adaptation, this committed theatrical incarnation totally makes fetch happen.

The narrative is roughly the same, albeit with an effective added framing device. Theatre kid Damian and his artist bestie Janis are telling the new freshman class a cautionary tale: how the home-schooled Cady Heron relocated from Africa, was confronted with high school cliques and hierarchies, and went undercover to spy on “The Plastics” aka Queen Bee Regina George and her sidekicks Gretchen and Karen – only to get seduced by popularity.

All of Fey’s iconic lines are here, greeted like old friends. “She doesn’t even go here” gets actual applause, and when asked to name the date, the audience happily choruses “October 3rd”. But there are smart updates too, from the removal of gags that haven’t aged well to the incorporation of phones and social media.

As fellow theatre geeks, we can of course connect instantly to Damian and Janis (the outstanding duo of Tom Xander and Elena Skye), especially when Damian turns “Where Do You Belong?” into a full-on Broadway number complete with show choir back-up and a dance break.

One of the fantastic choices that composer Jeff Richmond and lyricist Nell Benjamin make is to give each character their own musical genre. So Janis gets angrily rebellious rock, Cady’s innocence is mirrored by her cute pop numbers, the insecure Gretchen gets a patter-song lament, vapid Karen’s songs are childlike in structure, and Regina both seduces and lays down threats like a purring Bond girl.

The songs are incredibly catchy too. I defy you not to leave the theatre and go skipping down the Strand humming “Revenge Party”, “Apex Predator”, “I’d Rather Be Me”, or the fabulous solipsistic riff “My name is Regina George / And I am a massive deal”.

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A terrific UK cast put their stamp on these familiar characters. Charlie Burn is adorable during Cady’s hapless flirting, but hints at her upcoming transition to the dark side with her open admiration of Regina’s sheer power. Skye is explosive in Janis’s big numbers, and Xander is a constant comic scene-stealer.

The magnificent Georgina Castle makes Regina a loftily removed ice queen who occasionally meddles with mere mortals’ lives out of boredom more than malevolence. She has a big belt and tumbling riffs, and constantly impresses with her physicality – either lapsing into model posing, always aware of those eyes on her, or, hilariously, trying to style out a neck brace.

Zoë Rainey is excellent as the sarcastic-to-a-fault Ms Norbury and “cool mom” Mrs George – the latter so out of it that she waggles her tongue around hopelessly as she tries to locate the straw in her massive cocktail. Wonderful too are Elèna Gyasi as the panicked, motor-mouthed Gretchen and a hysterically funny Grace Mouat as sweet-but-dim Karen with her zombie walk and vacant smile.

The overstuffed second half trades the winning snark for an excess of sentimentality, especially in an oddly placed duet that sanitises Cady right when she hits her villain era and in the sappy final number. Likewise Casey Nicholaw’s hyper-energised production, backed by primary-coloured video, works unnecessarily hard to keep us engaged.

But there are few shows in town with the spectacular joke rate of Mean Girls, nor with characters this vivid or a story that, 20 years on, has such a perceptive take on how teenagers – and the rest of us – could treat one another better. Don your best pink shirt for this fun, life-affirming, super grool musical.

Mean Girls is at the Savoy Theatre. Book Mean Girls tickets on London Theatre.

Photo credit: Mean Girls (Photos by Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

Originally published on

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