Penticton Secondary School ready to perform ‘Mean Girls the Musical’ after months of work

Mean Girls on local stage

Casey Richardson

Even 20 years after the original movie came out, cast members of the Penticton Secondary School’s production of ‘Mean Girls the Musical’ say the themes are still relevant today.

Students Billie McFadyen and Xena Sidwell said they have enjoyed getting to work on a show that speaks to the high school experience.

The story follows Cady Heron, who moves from the isolation of the African Savana to the jungles of high school. Here she will meet her new friends Damien and Janis and they will plot to take down the Plastics but will learn valuable lessons along the way.

“I would definitely still say it's relevant today. Lots of good life lessons in there for sure,” McFadyen said, adding that she resonated with Heron's character.

“I think Cady Heron's part of going through every stage of finding herself to try and fit in and then realizing you don't have to fit in to be happy.”

Sidwell said she thinks everyone can relate to it in some way.

“It's just overall a really good reflection of high school life, unfortunately.”

Teens have been rehearsing since November, putting in hours of work for the High School version of the show, which will have its debut at Cleland Theatre on Wednesday night.

Director and theatre teacher Andrew Knudsen said he chose the show for quite a few reasons, which included getting to produce a musical with a strong female cast and this being the first time that the rights were available to the show.

“It's also very in the media right now,” he said, referring to the movie based on the musical that hit theatres in early 2024.

“What makes it fun, obviously, is Tina Fey wrote it. So it's very funny, very Saturday Night Live, very in the spirit of the old movie. It's fun for me because that was in my youth when I watched that film, right?”

He also said it was a good opportunity for the kids to show what their life's like to an audience.

“Sometimes life really imitates art and in this case, it's true. This is oftentimes what the kids deal with. There's really light topics, but really heavy topics that are discussed as well, and failures and bad decisions and all that stuff that you find in high school and as a teenager.”

The production has been a big undertaking, with 40 students in the cast, along with 15 band members, and work done by digital media students, the art department and wood shop.

“So really, at the end of the day, there's probably a few hundred people who were actually involved in this production,” Knudsen said.

Throughout rehearsals, the cast has learned tap dancing, vocal work, and acting work, but Knudsen said, that beyond that, it teaches kids resiliency.

“This is a tough thing to do. It teaches kids the the ability to press forward, as I tell kids all the time, something's going to go wrong. We don't know what it is and it's going to change every single night. It's your job to keep pushing through to allow your audience to be swept up in it.”

McFadyen, who plays Cady’s mom in the show and a couple smaller parts, said the show has been a lot of hard work.

“I would definitely say it's the most difficult show I've done. There are no other words other than it's a tough show. It's a lot,” she said. “Dedication and just hard work and working with people maybe that you don't like so much. But in the end, you still are good friends with everyone.”

Sidwell, who plays Regina George’s mom, echoed that sentiment.

“It's definitely been a challenge. The show is bigger than the last two shows that we've done in any show that we've done before. And it's been a learning curve, especially with having a bigger cast,” she said.

People are encouraged to come watch the show for a good laugh and to experience a callback to the original movie.

Mean Girls the Musical opens on Wednesday at 7 p.m., with shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $15 and can be found online here.

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