by Colin Thomas
To succeed in high school, be mean—beautiful and mean, if you’re a girl and you can manage it. But don’t expect long-term success with that strategy. According to the myths of our culture, kindness and integrity will eventually win out.
Tina Fey’s 2004 movie Mean Girls is a classic of the revenge-of-the-nerds genre, and Fey is in the process of reimagining that movie as Mean Girls, the Musical. Currently playing Washington DC, Mean Girls, the Musical is ramping up for a spring opening on Broadway.
If you want to read a fascinating example of how an influential critic treats—and attempts to reshape—a Broadway-bound production, check out what Peter Marks of the Washington Post has to say in his review.
And, for an even more intriguing variation on this theme, consider School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls Play, by New Yorker Jocelyn Bioh.
Bioh sets School Girls in Ghana, where her parents are from. And, according to Jesse Green of the New York Times, “the nasty-teen comedy genre emerges wonderfully refreshed and even deepened by its immersion in a world it never considered.”
Part of that deepening concerns internalized racism. In School Girls, the nice girl who challenges the ruthless social order has an unexpected advantage: lighter skin.
Everybody’s talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the new musical that celebrates a 16-year-old drag queen who wants to wear a dress to his prom.
It’s inspired by Jamie Campbell, now 22, who was the subject of the 2011 BBC documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16. In this interview in The Stage, Campbell reveals his early style icons: Kylie Minogue and Lily Savage (when he was four).
In review after review, British critics are wetting their pants with enthusiasm. In The Stage, Tim Bano says Everybody’s Talking is “unapologetically, hilariously, aggressively camp, the queerest of queer, and all the more brilliant for being so.” And, in the Independent, Paul Tyler calls the show “irresistible: a joyous, life-affirming Billy Elliot for an age struggling with the fluidities of gender identity.”
BONUS: Read an interview with John McCrea, the star of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
The Christmas holidays can be a beast. God knows my goal every year is to get better at ignoring them.
Still, I have a fun holiday challenge for you this week, a seasonal quiz. And this isn’t one of those fake Facebook quizzes that tells you that you’re a genius at geography while madly mining you for personal information. This is a real test. And it’s hard! I got seven out of ten, but I was guessing half the time.
So, if you dare to test your knowledge of Broadway-related Christmas trivia, have at it!
And, if you really want to engage in the true spirit of Christmas, by which I mean buying things, Playbill is offering some cool theatre-related presents. My favourite is a series of books called Broadway Baby Board Books that introduces classic show tunes to babies and toddlers. (Seriously.)
I’ve seen three shows this week and I recommend them all. Act fast! They all close on the weekend.
It’s selling out quickly but, if you can still get a ticket for Speakeasy Theatre’s production of The Shipment, book now! Audaciously, Korean-American playwright Young Jean Lee set herself the task of exploring black identity. The result is formally challenging and deeply satisfying.
The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius is a dark clown take on Shakespeare’s goriest tragedy, Titus Andronicus. It won’t be to everybody’s taste, but, at its best, it made me laugh so hard I thought I might lose my mind, and how often do you get to say that? Book here.
If you’re looking for something more sublime, check out The New Conformity at Presentation House. Three impressively skilled jugglers virtually dance their way through a wordless narrative about bullying. The sheer sculptural pleasure of this event made me moan. This is a perfect show for the whole family. Buy tickets right here.
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Every week, my free newsletter contains the best of my theatre writing. And there’s always lots of exclusive content.
This week, for instance, I’ll be writing about cultural crossovers, including the upcoming production of the Indian classic the Mahabharata at the Shaw Festival, and the impact that The Lion King is having on the South African actors who are performing in it.