Mean Girls the Musical Hopes to Draw Large Crowds

HHS Drama Club practices a cast favorite song Whose House is This?
HHS Drama Club practices a cast favorite song “Whose House is This?”
Eve Weatherhead

Fans of the popular 2004 film “Mean Girls” can see the staged, musical version of the story produced by the drama club when it opens on November 16.

Producer and Director Valerie von Rosenvinge says she chose Mean Girls because it “appealed to the kids” based on the pop-style score and the hype that surrounded it. Despite having not seen the movie herself prior, she and Clorinda Creo-Kirshy, costume designer, went to see a production of it over the summer. The show was decidedly different from any they had considered for the Drama Club in the past.

“This musical is very intense compared to a lot of others. Whereas most musicals have maybe three or four large ensemble numbers, this one has seven or eight,” von Rosenvinge said.

While the pair thought, “What the hell have we gotten ourselves into…,” they both looked at each other and decided, “They’re gonna love it.”

Choosing a recognized show for this year’s fall production was of high importance.

“Most people were pretty excited about this one coming off the tail of HONK! (last year’s musical) which is a relatively unknown to a very well-known musical,” says junior ensemble member Cade Sanborn.

Director Valerie von Rosenvinge runs lines, music, and choreography with the cast. (Eve Weatherhead)

Mean Girls is “a popular movie and I think a lot of people are going to be excited to see the musical more so than last year.”

Senior Abby McFarland who plays Mrs. George, mother of the leader of the Plastics, described the story as having “the ability to be super silly and goofy while also addressing serious issues about our world and the modern high school experience.”

Senior Angie O’Leary, stage manager and sound designer, agrees. With 38 cast members, O’Leary said, “I think musicals always get more traction than plays, and I think that there’s so many kids doing it this year, maybe more people will come.”

The cast and crew recognize putting on a show like Mean Girls presents challenges. It involves a lot of moving parts and day-to-day dedication from the students.

“There’s a lot of breathing warm-ups that we do. Other days we do staging, where we kind of act out the songs, and it’s more acting days. So it’s a combination.” Ashley Callery, who plays Janice said.

“I have to show up for every rehearsal, so that basically means every day at this point. We have to stay for multiple hours and I have to learn music, choreography, and all my lines,” Ava Pappalardo, who plays one of the leads “Cady,” said.

Everyone pitches in.

In addition to her speaking role as Ms. Norbury, senior Delaney Doyle puts her nearly fifteen years of experience in the theater to use as the dance captain, teaching some of the dances for the larger numbers.

“All the little intricacies such as tricky harmonies or a fast dance break which really sets it apart in complexity from other shows,” Doyle said.

As opening day draws near, the cast looks most forward to “Tech Week,” which includes daily full run-throughs of the show.

Lorelei Devlin, set painter and spotlight operator, describes this hectic week as the most difficult time during production. Devlin says that in the first three days “you have to pick up the cues fairly fast, because Monday Valerie will tell you the cue. Tuesday she might add something or might change them around. And then, Wednesday you have to have them all down in a notebook, have the times that they start memorized, and then Thursday is showtime. So you’ve got to learn it pretty fast.”

Delaney Doyle, dance captain, helps to teach the dances for the larger numbers.
(Eve Weatherhead)

Despite the craziness of that week, Pappalardo explained that “the most fun is when you are backstage during tech week and that’s when you get to spend good quality time together and get more connected as a cast.”

Bonding together as a group is the most valued part of the experience for the cast and crew.

This year feels different than in years past.

“There have been a number of kids that had never auditioned before that heard that it was ‘Mean Girls’ and they wanted to try. We also have some freshmen obviously that I did not know before. So they’re all different,” von Rosenvinge said.

Newcomers, senior Cameron Owen, who plays the lead role of Damien, feels that the best part of the experience is “the cast and the crew. Hanging out together is just really fun.”

That sentiment is echoed by the veteran actors too.

Old and new friendships have flourished in the Drama Club community. (Eve Weatherhead)

Abby McFarland, who has been involved in all of the productions in their high school career said “Every year is a new year to make great memories and friends in the Drama Club and this year has been no exception. I’m grateful for the new people I’ve met and the people I’ve had the pleasure of getting closer to (this year).”

The club hopes their positive experiences will pay it forward to the younger students just starting out.

“We are seeing all of the freshmen come in, so it’s nice to be able to welcome them in the same way that I was welcomed,” Devlin said.

This camaraderie is contagious and the ensemble is hopeful that will come through in the production.

Lead actress Pappalardo is anticipating seeing a full house for each show and wants the audience to know how much has gone into the production.

“We’ve all worked extremely hard. It’s a very long, and difficult show to do and it would be nice if people come to see all our hard work pay off,” Pappalardo said.

The cast hopes that their many hours of hard work will pay off drawing big audiences. (Eve Weatherhead)

According to von Rosenvinge, the word is out about the “Mean Girls” production.

“People have said to me ‘I’m coming to see this one.’ I’m hoping so. It would be lovely, obviously for the kids and the cast to feel supported, but it would mean a lot to me to have large houses. I believe in the theater Gods.”

“Mean Girls” runs from November 16-19 in the high school auditorium. Tickets go on sale on October 26 and can be purchased through a QR code that is on posters outside the auditorium and in the Student Memo sent via email.

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