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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Get in Loser: Mean Girls Musical Delivers Pink-Powered Prowess

 

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  • With a center stage spotlight, Natalie Berkaw ’25, Avery Parks ’24, and Sabrina Kim ’25 make their entrance atop a pink lunch table. The three played the characters of “the Plastics” – Gretchen, Regina, and Karen, who Cady befriends in the play’s central storyline.

  • After her number ‘Stupid With Love,’ Kayla Contello ’24’s Cady Heron dips back into the arms of Browning Lind ’25. Lind portrayed Aaron Samuels, Cady’s love interest in the musical.

  • Seated in Regina’s bedroom, Gretchen Wieners – performed by Natalie Berkaw ’25 – and Cady Heron – performed by Kayla Contello ’24 – discuss the Burn Book, a central plot device of the play. Technicians for the play created a near-reproduction of the original movie’s iconic prop.

  • Framed by ensemble members, Vivian Toney ’26, Elliot Richards ’26, and Kayla Contello ’24 as Mean Girls’ central trio Janis, Damian, and Cady, strike a pose for the end of ‘Where Do You Belong?’. Richards and Toney acted as partial narrators for the musical, opening both acts with scene-setting songs.

  • Supported by ensemble members Gus Trisnadi ’24 and Ryan Flagg ’25, Sabrina Kim ’25 poses as Karen Smith during her solo number ‘Sexy.’ Set during the Halloween party near the end of Act 1, Karen’s song describes Halloween costumes in a moment of comedic relief.

  • With an ensemble of students behind her, Cleo Steinhauser ’24 delivers a monologue as calculus teacher Ms. Norbury. Steinhauser worked to adapt an iconic performance by Tina Fey in the original movie to a new take, reworked for the stage.

  • In the final song of the show, Kayla Contello ’24 and Vivian Toney ’26 duet a verse of the number ‘I See Stars.’ The duet represented the reparation of the friendship between Cady and Janis, providing closure to the show’s storylines.

  • Flanked by Connor Wormington ’25 and Wes Autry ’26, Rohan Satija ’25 performs in the play’s Winter Talent Show as Kevin G., a Mathlete and DJ. Kevin’s songs in the musical were inspired by a hip-hop style, while playing off the character’s status as a math nerd.

  • With Natu Benyam Demeke ’25 and Vince Pham ’25 behind her, Avery Parks ’24 as queen bee Regina George performs ‘Someone Gets Hurt.’ The number, featuring Regina and a male ensemble, concludes the Halloween part sequence with Regina betraying Cady.

  • At the top of the show, Cady Heron – performed by Kayla Contello ’24 – performs ‘It Roars.’ The number follows Cady’s transition from homeschooling in Kenya to public high school in America.

  • After the house party scene, Kayla Contello ’24 and Browning Lind ’25 perform ‘More Is Better.’ In the scene, Cady confesses to Aaron that she lied in order to talk to him, leading to a climactic fight and a loss for Cady’s character.

  • While Avery Parks ’24 looks on as Regina George, the ensemble members perform choreography for ‘World Burn.’ Choregraphy by seniors Yeva Tcharikova and Kyra Jackson contributed drama to big numbers as well as physical storytelling to the show.

  • While holding Kayla Contello ’24 as Cady Heron, Elliot Richards ’26 performs the Act 2 opener ‘Stop!’. For his character Damian Hubbard, the number serves as a showstopping dance performance as well as a warning for Cady.

  • With the rest of the ensemble frozen in a pose, Kate Ren ’24 delivers her character’s testimonial on Regina George. Ren, with previous experience in Westwood Theatre, entered musical theatre for the first time with her character Lizzie Therman.

  • With Lucy Tome ’24, Anika Salsberry ’25, Annie Curtis ’26 and other ensemble members around her, Natalie Berkaw ’25 performs her dance solo in the Act 1 finale ‘Fearless.’ Her character Gretchen Wieners celebrates her independence after the dramatic social defeat of Regina George.

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Under the bright stage lights and watchful eyes of over five hundred audience members, the cast and crew of Westwood Theatre’s yearly musical took to the Raymond E. Hartfield Performing Arts Center (PAC) stage from Thursday, Jan. 25 to Saturday, Jan. 27 to put on the musical adaptation of the 2004 hit movie Mean Girls.

The show was a culmination of a rehearsal process that began soon after the beginning of the school year — with preliminary auditions kicking off in the second week of August. Since then, performers worked with Director Mr. George Franco and Assistant Director Ashley Jordan ‘24 on staging scenes and major moments of the show, Music Director Mr. Andre Clark on voice parts and harmonies for group songs, and student choreographers Yeva Tcharikova ‘24 and Kyra Jackson ‘24 on the large dance numbers throughout the show. But, despite the rigor and late hours of the six-month rehearsal process, actors like Jenna Hallidy ‘25, who played student Taylor Wedell, enjoyed the task of putting on a full-scale musical.

“Every time I walked into that class, I was excited to rehearse with the cast because I knew they would always be there to support and help me through anything I needed,” Hallidy said. “My favorite part of this experience was watching not only myself grow but the entire cast grow as individuals by the end of the process.”

In addition to the performers, the tech crew was faced with the mammoth task of creating the sets, costumes, and scenic elements for the show. The set, which included an eight-foot tall platform, two six-foot staircases, functioning cafeteria tables, and a full-size bed, was designed and constructed almost entirely by students, with direction by Mr. Franco. Assistant stage manager Greyson Letendre ‘24 led the majority of set work, as well as working as deck captain — a member of tech that plans out cues and directs the run crew — during the show’s run.

“Being given an overall creative direction from [Mr. Franco’s] vision, I could dive into the more fundamental aspects of the set down to the wood orders and screw counts needed,” Letendre said. “Having access to the PAC also made it so much more fun of an experience because I got to run a little bit wild with the scale.”

One challenge that the actors faced was the show’s cult-classic source material. The 2004 movie is full of iconic characters, quotes, and moments, many of which had to be translated onto the stage for the show. Avery Parks ‘24 — along with Polly Nickens ‘25 — performed the role of Regina George, the queen bee of the central friend group ‘The Plastics,’ who rose to movie character stardom after Rachel McAdams’ 2004 portrayal.

“Playing Regina was so much fun, but also so challenging,” Parks said. “It was hard to balance taking inspiration from her character in the movie, the musical, and whatever spin I wanted to put on her. I tried to deliver some of Rachel McAdams’ iconic lines in the same way as her, and I’d copy some of the vocal choices of the Broadway singers, but I loved taking Regina and making her a little angrier and bolder.”

Additionally, the show was narrated by the characters Janis and Damian, who befriended the main character Cady Heron during her first few days at North Shore High. These two roles were portrayed by sophomores Vivian Toney and Elliott Richards, meaning it was their first year performing as a part of the Westwood Musical Theatre company.

“I was honestly shocked that I got Damian,” Richards said. “I was not confident in my abilities at all, and I was so excited that I got my dream role. It was a lot to take on, but I got it eventually.”

Unlike many other main-stage productions at Westwood like the fall show or the one-act play, the yearly musical performs at the PAC. However, most rehearsals are done in the Big Black Box at Westwood, so  directors and actors had the charge of reformatting their scenes and songs to fill up a much larger space. For actors who perform in many plays throughout the year like Kate Ren ‘24, who played student Lizzie Therman, the feeling of performing in a full-size PAC was much different from performing at a smaller venue.

“Going to the PAC makes the show real,” Ren said. “I think doing a show in the Black Box is less stressful because you rehearse where you perform, but the larger audience of the PAC changes the energy of the show.”

Throughout January, the musical garnered attention from the community through a dedicated marketing campaign. Through a constant social media presence, publicity and posters around the school, and even a themed dress-up week, the show was able to reach a wide range of people and amass an audience considerably larger than in years past. Natalie Berkaw ‘25, who performed as Gretchen Wieners, was also responsible for the majority of the show’s marketing, including its Instagram presence and posters.

“Marketing Mean Girls was definitely a lot of work,” Berkaw said. “But it was so worth it for the amount of people that showed up and the reception we got from the audience.”

After all the rehearsals, design, and work that went into it, Westwood Theatre’s Mean Girls had a successful run met with appreciation from many different sides, ultimately culminating in a satisfying experience for all the crew members, directors, and performers involved with it.

“This year was amazing,” Hallidy said. “The family that we created in this class has been truly unmatched to anything I’ve ever seen in musical theatre. Mean Girls was one of the best experiences I have ever been a part of.”

Westwood Theatre’s next production will be a one-act version of Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, performing on March 20 and 22 in the Black Box.

 

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Sabrina Kim, Heritage Section Editor
Class of 2025 I’ve been obsessed with writing for as long as I’ve been retaining memories, and I’m unbelievably excited to get to write for the Horizon and work for the Heritage. I’m almost as—if not equally—enthusiastic about design, speculative fiction, traditional and digital art, playing guitar, volleyball, crocheting and knitting, consuming every kind of food and drink, learning languages, crosswords, having unreasonably strong opinions about everything, and Westwood Theatre, in no particular order. Some might say I do too much. They’re probably right.
Ellen Chuo, Photo Editor
Class of 2024 This is my second year working on Student Press, and I'm so excited to be part of the team. When I'm not at school, I enjoy playing guitar, hanging out with friends, and sleeping. I love to bake, especially when I should be doing homework or studying for a test. I also love hiking, camping, and taking pictures of nature.

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