The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

Senior Noah Daniel turns in his seat to talk to senior Annabelle Southern during their first scene together. photo by Darcy Leber

Time to get mean

The theater department draws inspiration from the popular ‘Mean Girls’ movie and makes it their own

In his first full year as a theater teacher at SHS, Caleb Francis aimed to promote engagement between students and the theater department. His solution resided in the production of “Mean Girls.”

As SHS’s theater department is gearing up for this production, they are hoping to aim a bigger audience through this widely-loved movie as well as foster new skills through this musical. 

“We chose ‘Mean Girls’ mainly because of the name and we knew that it was something that would engage a lot of people,” Francis said. “We wanted to potentially pull some more people who maybe have never taken a theater class or have done a production.” 

Senior Linda Sui and junior Keyona Graham read through the Burn Book together. photo by Darcy Leber

Preparations began in May with auditions, and rehearsals kicked off at the start of the school year. Choir teacher Jaclyn Richardson, responsible for the production and teaching voice lessons, spent six months preparing students for the challenging musical. 

In the decision-making aspect, Richardson along with the theater directors, knew that they wanted to do a musical that was both popular and relevant to kids. Deviating away from the traditional musicals, they hope that this will hype up the program a little bit. 

The familiarity of “Mean Girls” provided a strong foundation for the musical’s preparation. Students and staff drew inspiration from beloved characters and scenes, capturing the essence of the film. 

“The script itself is a really good reflection of the movie,” Francis said. “There are some of the iconic things that are taken out because of the way it’s adapted to the stage … but there are a whole bunch of things that if you are a fan of the movie, and if you know those iconic, recognizable moments, you’ll see those just attached to a song.” 

To maintain the integrity of both the musical and movie, Francis and Richardson followed most of the script and drew inspiration from the Broadway show. 

“I think the biggest thing that I like is they give a lot more character development to pretty much all of the characters,” Richardson said. “I just appreciated that they gave it a little bit more message of like, ‘don’t be a mean girl’. I mean that is kind of the purpose of the movie but I feel like they did a better job of it in the musical.” 

The Plastics are a popular group of teen girls that ruled the high school. One of those girls is Gretchen Wieners, played by senior Linda Sui. This is Sui’s first experience doing a musical. 

With Gretchen being Sui’s favorite character in the movie, she feels that it was easier to portray her personality and traits. 

“I think that I do act like her most of the time,” Sui said. “But I like to add my own twists and turns.”

Senior Astrid Gojko, Southern and senior Nathan Davenport all talk together at the beginning of the musical. photo by Darcy Leber

Playing Cady Heron, the “new girl” who has been homeschooled her whole life, senior Annabelle Southern shares ways she adapted the movie to the musical. 

Southern has been involved with theater since her sophomore year and had a lead role in last year’s production of ‘Zombie Prom’, but to her this role feels much bigger due to it being a more prominent musical.

In playing Cady, Southern based her character more towards the movie than adapting her own personal twist to it. However, through songs and a display of emotions, she feels she is able to add her own personal touch.  

“Our theater teacher Francis keeps telling us to watch it and take notes from that and how to portray the character but also add our own insight on how we want to do it,” Southern said. 

Senior Mary Pfeiffer also plays a role in the musical production. Pfeiffer is June George, who is Regina’s mom. She is described to be a crazy mom who wants to fit in with her daughter and all of her friends, and she is always walking around with a margarita in hand and a tracksuit as her daily staple. 

In preparation for her role, Pfeiffer often rewatches the movie so that she is able to pay special attention to Mrs. George and adopt her mannerisms. Along with rewatching the movie, she also found clips of the original Broadway musical in which she observes closely and takes inspiration. 

“I followed what I kinda saw in the movie, but also I just kind of tried to make it more of my own,” Pfeiffer said. “I try to make my own choices of who I think Mrs. George is.” 

Sophomore Abigail Wethington has been involved in theater at SHS for two years. She is now the head stage manager and runs all of the backstage activities and is in charge of the crew. 

Wethington has been highly involved in the planning aspect of the production. She has also been helping Francis build some of the sets in addition to the donated sets that the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in Carmel donated on behalf of late theater teacher Kimberly Roberts. 

With this being a bigger musical that’s been done at SHS, Wethington did a lot more planning however, she had experience in this area so she did not struggle as much. 

“The plotline is slightly different from the movie,” Wethington said. “We are doing the high school version … there’s a lot of differences, but they’re minor differences.”

For this musical, the plotline is slightly changed compared to the movie. There are some

changes in script due to keeping it school friendly. One of the adaptations being made is the Halloween scene in which Heron attends a Halloween party.

Instead of it being a scripted scene, it is all done through a song. Another adaptation being made is that there is an anthem from Janis Ian, Cady’s best friend, which is different from the movie since she is not frequently heard.

“Come see the show,” Richardson said. “It’s gonna be a great time and it’s fast paced so it’s not a very boring show. There are no boring moments … everyone worked really hard so come see ‘Mean Girls.’ ”

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About the Contributor
Zing Par
Zing Par, Arts and Entertainment Reporter
Hello everyone, my name is Zing Par and I am a senior at SHS. This is my second year with The Journal, and after taking a year off, I've decided to return and join this wonderful community of writers and editors. I previously wrote for the Entertainment section and opted to continue honing my writing skills in the most enjoyable section. Apart from this group, I also enjoy playing tennis and making crafts during my free time. I am frequently classified as a "creative person," and I wear that label with pride. Whether it is thinking of creative ideas for a project or coming up with silly ideas to craft, I am often filled with endless possibilities of things that I can do. Having said that, I hope to be able to use my skills to further my education in Occupational Therapy and contribute to The Journal. I am very happy to return here, and I hope to make even more amazing memories in my last year.    

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    Lucy Len DimNov 20, 2023 at 9:03 am