By Brendan Miller on January 23, 2024.
After months of hard work, studying performances and dances as well as learning lines and cues, Crescent Heights High School theatre arts students are almost ready to take the stage in their adaptation of a 2004 hit movie.
Mean Girls was written by Tina Fey and adapted into a Broadway musical in 2018 and tells the story of protagonist Cady Heron who moved to Illinois from Africa and is not sure how to fit in.
“Our story follows this group as they go through high school, and basically try to navigate through the problems that young people have in high school,” says director and drama teacher Jen Davies.
Cady befriends two outsiders, Janis and Damian, as well as members from an A-list girl clique known as ‘The Plastics,’ and finds herself falling in love with the ex-boyfriends of The Plastics’ queen-bee Regina.
Davies says the musical focuses on the experience of high school students and addresses serious content and important issues which a lot of high school students and their families go through.
“It sends a really important message about reflecting on how you behave and how you treat others and how you can probably do better,” says Davies. “There is quite a positive message here about self worth and self acceptance and how you treat others.”
Grade 12 theatre arts student Bailey Streifel, who plays the role of Cady Heron, says Mean Girls is her favourite musical. She says the story is relatable and shines the spotlight on finding real friendships at school.
“We can relate to the friends thing of who you can be truly friends with and, like finding out who the fake people are, the fake friends, and finding out who your true friends are and keeping them close, keeping them for your life,” says Streifel.
For a handful of students including Streifel, this will be their last performance with the Crescent Heights theatre arts program, and many have been involved with the program since Grade 7.
“I found a lot of my best friends from this program,” explains Streifel. “It’s really built who I am as a person and just maybe find my voice, emotionally and physically, because I love singing so much. It’s just been an amazing journey from where I started to where I am now.”
Grade 12 student Elizabeth Andrei has also been involved with the program since Grade 7 and is acting and choreographing the production.
Andrei plays Gretchen, a member of ‘The Plastics,’ and says it’s a funny show that is able to shine a light on school bullying.
“It deals with real issues. But it also brings the comedy to it. And then it just shines a light on, like, bullying and being kind to others by the end of the show,” says Andrei.
The performance will also be Andre’s last with the program. She says she grateful for the opportunity.
“It’s just such an amazing experience,” she says. “I love coming here. And I love teaching. I love being around all my friends and my amazing teachers. It’s just such a heartwarming experience.”
Andrei joined fellow Grade 12 student Ella Hoffarth to choreograph 20 dances for the musical, which will feature a full orchestra.
Like Andrei and Streifel, Hoffarth became involved with the theatre program several years ago in Grade 5 with a role in the Lion King.
She says her time with the program has inspired her to pursue her dreams of becoming a dancer after high school.
“It’s something I really enjoy. I definitely want to go into dance and pursue dance, and hopefully choreograph some dances in the future,” says Hoffarth. “We are super lucky to be teaching a great group of kids. They’re all super hard workers. They’re passionate and they are determined to get the dance.”
Davies says it’s always a bittersweet time as she watches the final performances of her students who are getting set to graduate in the Fall.
“It’s actually a little bit heartbreaking as they graduate, but I’m so proud to look back and see all that they have accomplished,” says Davies.
There will be a total of nine performances of ‘Mean Girls’ running at Crescent Heights theatre from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, and again from Feb. 6-10.
The high school is keeping tickets priced at $25 and all funds support the theatre arts program and will help fund a trip to L.A. during Easter where the theatre arts students are expected to perform at Disneyland. As always, a silent auction running through the show’s duration will also support the program, featuring dozens of donated items from local vendors and businesses.
Tickets can be purchased on the school’s website or in person prior to show time.
Editors note: An earlier version of the story had Elizabeth Andrei’s name misspelled as Andre.