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Clarksburg High School in Clarksburg, Maryland presented Mean Girls High School Version to the Cappies Critics on April 13, 2024. Here are the top two Cappies Critic reviews.

Emilie Fiske

South Lakes High School


How much of your true identity would you be willing to erase in order to fit in? This question, along with themes rooted in feminism and individualism, was strongly and adeptly portrayed in Clarksburg’s production of Mean Girls High School Version, a perceptive modern commentary on teenage social dynamics.


Based on the 2004 movie of the same name, Mean Girls premiered in 2017 at the DC National Theatre and went on to Broadway the following year. The musical explores the true difficulties of growing up as a modern teen girl, touching on issues such as high school social divides and homophobia. It follows the story of Cady Heron, the “new girl” in a high school that worships the popular clique known as The Plastics and their leader, Regina George. Together with artsy and flamboyant outcasts Janis Sarkisian and Damian Hubbard, they hatch a plan for Cady to pretend to be Plastic and take down Regina once and for all… that is, until the line begins to blur between acting and reality.


Elena Schwartz led the cast as Cady Heron with impressive vocals and a thoughtful portrayal of Cady’s character arc and personality shift throughout the show. It was only elevated by scene partners Josie Escario and Nikhil Naik as Janis Sarkisian and Damien Hubbard, respectively, who confidently played their characters with exceptional physicality. However, when it came to powerful stage presence, no one could beat Regina George, played by Emily Bastidas. With a strong vibrato and keen movements and gestures that alluded to Regina’s characteristic passive aggression, Bastidas commanded the stage, particularly in numbers Someone Gets Hurt and World Burn. And potentially the most surprising standout performance was by Tiffanie Kim as Karen Smith, one of Regina’s most devoted followers known for her stupidity. Kim brought a certain power to this often-overlooked character that was equal parts comedic and inspiring.


The Mean Girls ensemble, including featured performers Sierra Flowers and Sadan Lasker, did a phenomenal job as a cohesive group. The ensemble choreography was executed beautifully and perfectly synchronized, and the background acting by ensemble characters during scenes was always admirably strong. Additionally, featured characters Ms. Norbury (Lydia Wester) and Kevin G (Praneel Suvarna) stood out for their on-point comedic timing.


The standout tech elements in this production were clearly the lighting, special effects, and costuming. Clarksburg’s Lighting Crew (Alec Craig) and Visual Effects Crew (Justin Meyer) worked in tandem to create an immersive experience for the audience, implementing fog machines, glowsticks, a disco ball, and even items falling from the ceiling overhead. The Costumes Crew (Molly Ridgeway) clearly took the time and effort to design their outfits, given the different costumes they chose for each character on different days during the story’s timeline. They also created unique Halloween party attire, including Cady’s Halloween costume, which was accurate to the original movie and doubled as a tearaway costume for an efficient on-stage quick change. All three tech crews utilized color theory; for example, contrasting warm and cool colored lights to represent the motif of competition throughout the show. The Sets Crew (Esther Petersen, Tristan Perkins) and Props Crew (Axel Nicholson) also were able to construct a working fountain, remote control puppy, and several detailed puppets of animals from the African savannah.


At the end of the day, Clarksburg’s take on the feminist musical phenomenon that is Mean Girls was one for the books (but definitely not the Burn Book). Featuring a talented ensemble, splendid choreography, and noteworthy special effects, this production did a fantastic job of illustrating the value of individuality.

Alexander Perry

Lake Braddock Secondary School


When envisioning a fearsome predator, images of piercing claws, chomping teeth, or sharp talons might come to mind. However, the world’s most dangerous “apex predator” actually relies on shimmering high heels, biting insults, and high social status to hunt their prey. This past weekend, Clarksburg High School invited audiences on a raucous safari, revealing the inner complexities of the powerful creatures that are popular high school “Mean Girls High School Version.”


Based on the 2004 film of the same name, “Mean Girls” adapts the cultural staple into a thrilling musical displaying the dramatic lives of modern teenagers. The story follows Cady Heron after her lonely life in Kenya dramatically changes when her family moves to the bustling United States. However, her optimistic expectations are soon replaced with apprehension as she realizes her superficial, cliquish classmates might be more ruthless than the predators of the savanna she left behind.


Shining as Cady Heron, Elena Schwartz began the production with an immediately infectious energy, marked by a radiant smile and eager, sudden physical changes. As her character transitions from a lowly newcomer to a popularity-corrupted "Queen Bee," Schwartz similarly transformed, employing a newly confident stance and relaxed, suave movements. In stark contrast stood Emily Bastidas, portraying Regina George, the formidable pinnacle of the social food chain. While typically self-assured, poised with a smirk, Bastidas occasionally flared with anger, a distinct choice foreshadowing Regina's eventual downfall and fiery aggression during her exceptional number, "World Burn."


Other standout roles included Tiffanie Kim and Josie Escario as Karen Smith and Janis Sarkisian, respectively. Karen may be the school's dumb blonde, but Kim infused her performance with clever timing and comedic genius. Every line had memorable inflection and thought-out pauses, blending dry sincerity with empty-headed naiveté. Escario commanded the stage with a gait that was full of swagger, incorporating loose movements which contrasted beautifully with her uptight classmates. After failing to destroy Regina George, Janis learns that fighting isn't worth it, a lesson heightened through Escario's genuine emphasis on specific words and high energy throughout her uplifting number "I'd Rather Be Me."


The production's intensity felt amplified by the costume design, headed by Molly Ridgeway. Each actor received a wardrobe of several character-accurate outfits, fleshing out their styles and personalities. For instance, Cady's multilayered, drab clothing became brighter and more revealing, indicating her attempts to fit into her surroundings. Another brilliant technical element was the special effects department, under the guidance of Justin Meyer. Fog machines magnified energetic moments, most notably during "Meet the Plastics," when twin columns of smoke provided a sinister atmosphere for Regina's introduction.


At its core, “Mean Girls” is a story about solidarity with friends and authenticity, evident through Clarksburg’s well-connected cast and genuine performances. If, like Cady, you’re wondering “Where Do You Belong?,” the audience of Clarksburg High School’s theatre is a fantastic place to start looking.


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