Survival of the Meanest: The Broadway musical version of the hit 2004 film Mean Girls hits Charlotte Feb. 13-18

Jan 29, 2024 / Blog
By Page Leggett

Mean girls are as much a part of middle school and high school as exams and sketchy cafeteria food.

If you remember Nellie Oleson from the TV series Little House on the Prairie, you know that mean girls were ruling one-room schoolhouses in the 1870s.

Natalie Shaw – who plays Cady Heron in the touring Mean Girls musical headed to the Belk Theater Feb. 13 – 18 – recalls the meanies from her own Fargo, North Dakota teen years.

“Whoever was the wealthiest, had the nicest clothes and was dating the hockey player was the most popular girl,” she said. “Middle school and high school are so clique-y and ridiculous,” she added. “It’s the worst time, I think, in anyone’s life.”


(Natalie Shaw as "Cady Heron" in the National tour of Mean Girls. Photo by Jenny Anderson) 

Shaw, 26, admits to getting caught up in the maelstrom of middle-school drama. “There were moments I thought I needed to be friends with the richest, most popular girls because I thought they determined my worthiness,” she said. “It’s wild how right this show gets it.”

Perhaps that’s why it’s resonated with audiences since 2004 when the original Tina Fey-penned movie, starring Lindsay Lohan as Cady, came out.

Cady experiences culture shock after arriving in suburban Illinois from a childhood spent on the African savanna. Soon, the naïve newcomer is trying to fit in with a trio of popular girls known as The Plastics and led by the callous, charismatic Regina George (Rachel McAdams in the original movie).


(Pictured (L-R): Natalie Shaw (Cady Heron), Kristen Amanda Smith (Gretchen Wieners), Maya Petropoulos (Regina George), Maryrose Brendel (Karen Smith), Alexys Morera (Janis Sarkisian), and the Tour Company of Mean Girls Photo by Jenny Anderson, 2023)

A movie version of the musical opened recently and stars 2018 Blumey winner Renee Rapp, who also played Regina on Broadway. Later this year, the musical will debut in London’s West End.

Twenty years after the original, Mean Girls is definitely having a moment.  


A post shared by Mean Girls (@meangirls)


Shaw was just 7 when the PG-13 movie came out and didn’t see it then. (The musical is also recommended for ages 13+.) But by the time she got to high school, watching it and quoting lines from it had become de rigueur. “We’d go to sleepovers and be like: Let’s put on Mean Girls,” she said. “It’s the most watchable – and rewatchable – film ever. The story is relatable to anyone who’s experienced high school, middle school or been the new person in the office.”

Sadly, the timeless appeal is because “mean girls don’t go away,” Shaw said. “They become mean women. All we can do is honor what Beyonce says, and that’s: Love thy hater.”

From the mind of Tina Fey

Mean Girls is the work of a creative dream team: book writer Tina Fey; her husband, composer Jeff Richmond (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt); lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde); and director Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).

Shaw hasn’t met Fey, the comedy legend who got her start on Saturday Night Live, but she hears her voice nightly before the show. That’s Fey instructing the audience to silence all cell phones.


(Pictured (L-R): Natalie Shaw (Cady Heron), Kristen Amanda Smith (Gretchen Wieners), Maya Petropoulos (Regina George), and Maryrose Brendel (Karen Smith) Photo by Jenny Anderson, 2023)

“The musical honors the source material while also doing its own thing,” Shaw said. “It focuses on social hierarchy and the desire to be accepted – but also expands and, I think, improves on the movie. The characters are more fully fleshed out.”

“You’ll see that Karen and Gretchen [Regina’s minions] are deeply insecure. Gretchen’s sense of self-worth is dependent on Regina liking her, and that’s not a true friendship.”

Think pink!

Shaw has been thrilled to see young people – often outfitted in pink – embracing the show. (“On Wednesdays, we wear pink” is one of its most iconic lines.) She sees people who weren’t even born when the movie came out singing along to “Revenge Party,” “What’s Wrong with Me?” and “I’d Rather Be Me.”

Her current favorite song in the musical is the duet her character sings with Cady’s crush, Aaron Samuels. In “More is Better,” Cady is “missing her old home and the big sky full of stars,” Shaw said. “It’s a tender moment … I look forward to it every night.”

“Many young people who come to the musical are being exposed to Mean Girls for the first time,” she said. “And still, the story seems to resonate.”

There’s a lesson Shaw hopes audience members take home. “You are who you hang out with,” she said. “So, surround yourself with people who make you feel seen.”

Mean Girls

10% off for Groups of 10+. Groups of 40+ receive one (1) complimentary ticket. Valid on select performances.

Feb 13 - 18, 2024