Reviews Roundup: Mean Girls The Musical

Savoy Theatre

Mean Girls at the Savoy Theatre. Photo: Brinkhoff Moegenburg

Mean Girls, in the words of WhatsOnStage’s Sarah Crompton, is ‘a cautionary musical tale of high school rivalries, corruption and betrayal wrapped in a very pretty pink bow‘. Tina Fey’s stage musical version of her movie script was a Broadway hit; six years later, it has arrived in the West End. Was it worth the wait? The critics generally liked Tina Fey’s book (script) but there was disagreement on the quality of the songs.

[Links to full reviews are included but a number are behind paywalls and therefore may not be accessible]

Fiona Mountford in the i (4★) was a fan: ‘Jeff Richmond (composer) and Nell Benjamin (lyrics) supply a highly tuneful score that is a riot of peppy, poppy songs; unusually for a new musical, I came away humming several of the numbers.’ She said, ‘Director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw…certainly knows how to concoct a slick production’.

Adam Bloodworth at CityAM (4★) was equally enthusiastic: ‘it feels freshly powerful for a new generation rather than treading in the footsteps of the original. That’s mainly thanks to Nell Benjamin’s pumping musical score that neatly translates the sassy characters’ stories onto the stage, and Casey Nicholaw’s direction and choreography, which is gripping and pacey…it feels freshly powerful for a new generation rather than treading in the footsteps of the original.’

Sarah Crompton at WhatsOnStage (4★) discovered ‘a book as corrosive as acid but much funnier’. She had a reservation: ‘The problem is that the songs, with music by Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin, are syrupy where the script is sharp…they crucially extend the show…to a slightly sagging two and a half hours.’ She concluded, ‘All the skill involved makes it hard not to succumb. This is a genuinely enjoyable show with its heart in the right place’.

Despite describing it as ‘mere chaff’, the Telegraph’s (4★) reviewer called it ‘a rare combination of warmth, goofiness, snarky wit and perceptiveness.’ It came across to Susannah Clapp in The Observer (4★) as ‘a friendly, popular show‘.

Chris Wiegand for The Guardian (3★) felt ‘too many routines are efficient rather than euphoric. The pristine school surroundings and several bland songs result in a sometimes flat production’. He conceded, ‘It’s often fun, and is well cast and impressively acted, but just needs an extra shot of dazzle and acidity.’

The Sunday Times’ Dominic Maxwell (3★) ‘found an oddly sluggish first half’ with songs that ‘run the gamut between the passable and the adequate’. Fortunately, ‘Jokes still land, the acting is terrific and the songs have more emotion to play with as the story clicks into gear in the second half.’ His colleague at The Times, Clive Davis (3★), said, ‘it’s engaging enough, although Fey’s one-liners linger longer in the memory than most of the bubblegum songs’. 

Nick Curtis in the Standard (3★) thought it was a ‘breezy, arch but boneless musical adaptation’ with ‘poppy, mostly forgettable songs’. He found, ‘You find yourself wishing for each number to end so we can get back to Fey’s insouciant wit.’

Anya Ryan for The Stage (3★) was disappointed that ‘Nothing feels surprising.’ However, ‘Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin’s poppy songs feature plenty of bangers’ and ‘Fey has certainly put her finger on something: she knows girls can be savage, sly and criminally mean’. She is sad that ‘It’s just a shame then that the constant re-churning of this story is starting to feel soulless’.

Tim Bano in The Independent (2★) wasn’t mean exactly,but he was sarcastic: ‘If the movie didn’t exist, this would be fine. I mean, the score by Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond would still be a bit anodyne, every song filler-y, most of them unmemorable, the direction by Casey Nicholaw functional, his choreography fruitlessly maximal, the digital set a bit empty and unimaginative.’

Critics’ average rating 3.3★

Value rating 37 (Value rating is the Average Critic Rating divided by the typical ticket price.)

Mean Girls The Musical can be seen at the Savoy Theatre until 16 February 2025. Buy tickets direct

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