‘Mean Girls’ plays an open run at the August Wilson Theatre, 245 W. 52nd St., meangirlsonbroadway.com.
There is a clever and catchy musical based on a well-known teen movie about an exclusive high school clique of three popular and beautiful mean girls who invite a down-to-earth classmate to join their ranks, which leads to dissent among the ranks, boyfriend problems and school chaos — but it’s not “Mean Girls.”
I’m thinking of “Heathers,” which is based on the 1988 Winona Ryder/Christian Slater film and briefly played Off-Broadway in 2014. Other worthy musicals dealing with social stratification and teen angst include “Spring Awakening,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Bare” and “Bring It On.”
“Mean Girls,” on the other hand, proves to be a wishy-washy, pointless adaptation of the smart and sassy 2004 film, which was written by Tina Fey and contains performances by Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lizzy Caplan and Fey.
Except for a few new laugh lines and structural changes (like incorporating social media and flashback mode), Fey’s book for “Mean Girls” sticks closely to the screenplay, in which new student Cady (Erika Henningsen), egged on by outcasts Damian (Grey Henson) and Janis (Barrett Wilbert Weed), infiltrates the triumvirate of queen bee Regina George (Taylor Louderman) and her cohorts Gretchen (Ashley Park) and Karen (Kate Rockwell).
Kerry Butler, who played a teenager in “Hairspray” back in 2002, here portrays a desperate-to-be-hip middle-aged mom and well-meaning math teacher.
The primary problem is that the songs (music by Jeff Richmond, lyrics by Nell Benjamin) are underwhelming and awkwardly inserted into the dialogue.
As if trying to compensate, the production (staged by Casey Nicholaw, “The Book of Mormon”) pulsates with high energy and hyperkinetic movement, as seen in everything from the broad-style performances to the shifting digital projections and all-out dance choreography.
While the best-written teen musicals can attract a diverse audience, few adults will find the “Mean Girls” musical to be — in the immortal words of Gretchen — “fetch. ”