Theater Reviews: 5 New Broadway Shows to Get You Ready for June's Tony Awards

By Gibson, Leigh | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), May 31, 2018 | Go to article overview

Theater Reviews: 5 New Broadway Shows to Get You Ready for June's Tony Awards


Gibson, Leigh, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


NEW YORK — This Broadway season is serving up a mix of new works, classic revivals and shows inspired by pop culture.

With the Tony Awards coming up on June 10, Deseret News contributor Leigh Gibson hit up the Great White Way, taking in 10 new productions. Read her thoughts on five new shows below, and watch for her second round of reviews next week.

“Mean Girls”

Where: August Wilson Theatre, 245 W. 52nd St.

Website: meangirlsonbroadway.com

“Mean Girls” is making fetch happen.

For those unfamiliar with the movie that inspired the hottest show on Broadway, that’s a good thing.

Tina Fey’s new Tony-nominated musical is a biting commentary on high school tribal culture and the problems popularity can bring. The hilarious new musical retains the heart and wit of the 2004 cult movie while adding in new cultural elements like social media (and the effect of bullying in an online world).

In “Mean Girls,” Cady Heron moves from Africa to the suburbs and becomes a deer in the headlights as she's thrust into the complicated world that is high school. She immediately befriends two social outcasts, who challenge her to spy on the untouchable Plastics, a trio of pink-clad popular girls who rule the school.

The show received 12 Tony nominations (tying with "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical" for the most nominations this year), and for good reason. With the book by Fey and music by her husband Jeff Richmond, “Mean Girls” does not disappoint. Not only does it have multiple standout performances and top-notch staging elements, but it also maintains the perfect blend of old one-liners movie fans will enjoy and new content that the musical’s fans will be repeating.

One welcomed difference from the film comes as the musical is narrated by the social outcasts, Janis and Damien (Barrett Wilbert Weed and Grey Henson). This proved to be a wise choice, as they can reveal more about the ins and outs of high school life, and paved the way for Henson's hilarious, Tony-nominated breakout performance.

As the ice queen of the Plastics, Regina George (played effortlessly by Taylor Louderman) commands attention. Louderman received a well-deserved Tony-nomination for her take on the queen bee, including her astoundingly powerful voice.

Her sidekicks, Gretchen Weiners and Karen Smith (played by Ashley Park and Kate Rockwell) bring more humanity to the show than any of the characters. Both deserved Tony nominations, but voters snubbed Rockwell, which was unfortunate since she steals the show every time she walks onstage.

However, despite the undeniably strong performances, the most captivating part of the show is neither a song nor an actor, but the set. Built with several perfectly clear LED screens, the set magically transports you from the high school cafeteria, to the mall and to the African savanna. It also serves as the perfect platform to show the gossip on social media.

Content advisory: "Mean Girls" contains some language and an offensive hand gesture.

“My Fair Lady”

Where: Lincoln Center Theater, 150 W. 65th St.

Website: myfairladybway.com

It doesn't seem logical, but Lincoln Center Theater’s new production of a 62-year-old musical is entirely just that — brand new, and more relevant today than ever.

"My Fair Lady's" well-known story (with roots in George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmallion") features phonetician Henry Higgins (played by "Downton Abbey's" Harry Hadden-Paton), who transforms a poor flower girl from Covent Garden into a duchess through bullying and rigorous pronunciation drills.

But in today's #MeToo era, this revival of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's “My Fair Lady” is all about girl power. Eliza is no wilting flower, as is evident by Lauren Ambrose's genuine, Tony-nominated performance. She is strong, determined and willing to stay up all night with marbles in her mouth because she wanted to change her economic circumstances and social stature. …

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