BROCKWAY — The Brockway Area Drama Club is dealing with some “Mean Girls” on the stage starting March 24.
“Mean Girls (High School Edition)” is a musical based on the 2004 film starring Lindsay Lohan. Cady Heron, played by Mia Hynds in the Brockway play, starts at a new school and is initially welcomed by the popular girls called “The Plastics.” However, Heron makes the mistake of falling in love with the wrong boy, setting off the teen comedy’s drama.
Co-Director Ryan Carter said that audiences can expect to see something new on the stage when the curtain opens.
“It’s a fresh play,” Carter said. “This is one of the newest plays released for amateur theaters. We’re used to doing musicals that have been out for decades – Annie, Oklahoma, Insert Disney Title Here, but we are among the first in the nation to do this at the high school level. To be a trailblazer struck me as a fun opportunity.”
Carter said that the challenge of producing “Mean Girls” is that he is unable to look to other productions to plan his own.
“We are the template,” he said. “We don’t have the opportunity to run into an issue and look at how other schools handled it. We are the other school that schools will look to. We take what we see on Broadway, and take what we’ve seen in other shows, and do that. This is certainly not the first time someone did a musical in a school. We have built large floating lockers and light them up red when we need to. They also spin around to be bathroom stalls. We have the world’s best ag department and shops, and if they can see it, they can build it. The play would not float without them.”
The shop students built desks, spinning lockers, and other moving parts to keep the show flowing, which is one of the other challenges of “Mean Girls” — there are no clear scenes.
“The scenes are ever shifting around the character on stage,” Carter said. “There’s always something happening, and the lights and sets move to facilitate that.”
Carter is also thrilled to have a live pit for the first time in several years. He said that these are “fine musicians” who are excited to create the musical atmosphere of the play.
As far as the casting goes, Carter said he always tries to have at least three people who can play any main role in a play, and this year’s stars impressed him in auditions, some taking roles that he and they may not have expected.
Hynds said the found a lot of common ground with her character, Heron, who was homeschooled by her anthropologist parents in Kenya, and moved back to the United States to attend this new high school.
“I have moved a couple of times, and being the new kid is terrifying,” Hynds, a sophomore in her first major role, said. “You don’t know who everyone is and who you should be friends with. Cady is an excellent character to play. I love her.”
Heron is initially befriended by two semi-outsiders, Damian and Janis, but then connects a group of girls called “The Plastics,” who are the titular “Mean Girls.”
“She’s just trying to find her way, and it’s difficult to her,” Hynds said. “She gets put into this situation with ‘The Plastics,’ and they’re so mean, and she doesn’t know who her true friends are.”
One of those “Mean Girls” is main villain Regina George, played in Brockway by senior Shaelynn Brubaker.
“She’s iconic,” Brubaker said of her character. “She’s the 2000s’ It Girl: so luxurious, teen royalty, and everyone worships her. I’m an average person, but I get to act all extravagant and high society, and I get to be the villain for once. My stereotypical character role was always the funny one.”
Brubaker’s experience with comic relief meant that she really had to dig deep to find motivation for Regina’s meanness.
“She does bad things, but there’s a reason for it,” she said. “It’s not just outright meanness. It’s strategic.”
Pulling Heron in the opposite direction is Janis, an outsider who initially befriends the new girl in town.
“She’s an art freak that no one really likes,” sophomore Sophia Lorentz said. “I find myself relating to her a lot. The costumes are my favorite part, and the fact she gets her own custom jacket. She also has a messy painter smock, which is my ideal style when I do art.”
Like Hynds, this is Lorentz’s first big role. Both she and Brubaker cannot wait for the audience to see the number “World Burn.”
“It starts out angry, and then it gets very sad,” Brubaker said.
“It’s very powerful,” Lorentz added.
A high school musical would be incomplete without a high school staff to try to keep order, and the main person trying to keep down the flames is Principal Duvall, played by Tanner Raffeinner.
“One of my favorite scenes is the gymnasium scene where I am trying to resolve the problems the Burn Book caused at North Shore High,” Raffienner, a freshman in his first role, said. “I just think it’s a really fun scene, and I love telling jokes and making those around me laugh.”
Carter said that this play might be a surprise to audiences because it is not a feel-good, nostalgia-filled play but explores the darker side of high school.
“Sometimes, high school is a struggle, and it’s not really anyone’s fault and it’s not really under our control, it’s just what it is,” he said. “I think this show does a good job of not sugar-coating how vicious teenagers can be to each other in any school. I hope that the students seeing it step back and evaluate if they are one of these ‘Mean Girls.’”
Hynds, whose character acts as the audience’s surrogate in the world of North Shore High, agreed.
“High school can be a cruel place anywhere you go, and people need to realize that,” she said. “Seeing how words can affect people is something I really hope the audience gets.”
Brubaker said that she hopes the audience appreciates the hard work and growth of the Brockway Drama Club as her time in Brockway is ending.
“I saw so much growth in the club and the kids, and I enjoyed that,” Brubaker said. “They have improved with choreography and performances, and audiences can see that.”
However, “Mean Girls (High School Edition)” uses the lens of comedy to explore high school, and Carter expects the audience to have fun.
“I hope everyone gets a good laugh,” he said. “It is a hilarious play.”
The Brockway Area Drama Club will perform Mean Girls (High School Edition) starting March 24 in the high school auditorium. The musical will run at 7 p.m. on March 24, 25, 30, and 31 as well as April 1. A 2 p.m. matinee is scheduled for March 26. The cost is $10 for adults and $6 for students.
Tickets are available at brockwaydrama.ticketleap.com/mean/ or at the door. The show is recommended for ages 10 and up.