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New York | 1h 15m | Ends Dec 09

School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play

From 29 critic and 203 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Relevant, Absorbing

About the show

MCC Theater's buoyant and biting hit comedy returns to New York. An exploration of the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe. How far would you go to be queen bee? More…

Paulina, the reigning Queen Bee at Ghana's most exclusive boarding school, has her sights set on the Miss Universe pageant. But the mid-year arrival of Ericka, a new student with undeniable talent and beauty, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter – and Paulina’s hive-minded friends. Directed by Tony-winner Rebecca Taichman ('Indecent.')


"One of the funniest shows of the season, benefiting not just from sharp writing, but a stellar cast that knows how to ground this comedy in real stakes...Director Rebecca Taichman has impressively fostered a familiarity within the cast that makes it seems as though they've been living together for years...It would be easy to condemn Paulina as a mean girl, but Bioh forces us to question how she became that way." Full Review

The Observer

"This eight-member ensemble is a well-oiled machine...Bioh, a shrewd comic writer of obvious gifts, doesn’t shrink from the uglier side of her subject. And she maintains enough empathy to redeem even the most narcissistic and spiteful of antiheroines...I saw and adored 'School Girls' last fall, and good on MCC for bringing it back. Taichman recreates her very musical, funny, and tight-paced 70-minute production, which includes...one of the most appealing ensembles on stage now." Full Review


“Highly comic and poignant...a fresh take on the familiar terrain of feuding high school girls. It's a substantive comedy that’s superbly staged and wonderfully performed...Bioh’s snappy dialogue perfectly renders the rhythms of teenage lingo and the pain beneath the bravado, emitting the universality of adolescence. Bioh’s construction is meticulous....Besides the foreign setting there’s nothing really 'new' about the play but’s it’s so well written and gloriously presented." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

“A delightful play…There are hilarious examples of their misunderstanding of American culture…Bioh overlays the well-worn conventions of teenage cliques and beauty pageant competition with an additional ingredient: colorism…Has anything changed since 1986? Come, find out and be entertained. The actors are all wonderful. Director Rebecca Taichman has demonstrated her usual sure but deft hand.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“There is another very different 'Mean Girls' getting ready to launch on Broadway shortly that Tina Fey is working on. But, believe me, nothing could rival the 'African Mean Girls Play'...Not to be missed. Bioh is to be congratulated on her ability to create a very humorous script bringing topical/important issues to light, together with Taichman on her always splendid creativity in directing this oh, so talented cast.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"That rare piece of theatre that feels authentic from beginning to end—a perfect amalgam of prescient writing, superb acting, spot-on design and savvy direction...A taut exploration of racism, colorism and classism that upends notions of self-loathing and challenges the world's definition of beauty...You'll feel the heartache and unfairness of a callous world amidst the laughter and gaiety playwright Bioh so accurately captures." Full Review


“The play really is, as the title suggests, simply – and I think audaciously – the film ‘Mean Girls’ set in west Africa. Ms. Bioh’s writing is joyous and alive, and often very funny. Her treatment of issues such as self image and notions of beauty is never forced and always compassionate. Taichman directs with brio and warmth. The production is a breath of fresh air that doesn’t shy away from unabashedly entertaining. Which brings us to the cast, which is a knockout.” Full Review

Broadway Black

“A highly entertaining comedy that takes an all-too-familiar American concept and shows how universal it indeed is...Bioh gives room for the characters to grow without completely vilifying our lead character or making her a victim...Paulina could quickly be the bitch...but it’s in Boafo’s excellent acting choices and Bioh’s complex writing that leads the audience to appreciate the intricacies of humanity...A well-paced, rewarding ensemble show that is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Rebecca Taichman's direction hits all the right notes, lightly spoofing the girls' aspirations while also demonstrating that these beautiful, bubbly, intelligent young creatures are beguiling enough without having to borrow from Western culture. The cast is loaded with fresh faces you'll want to see again...It's even easier to imagine bright futures for the talented young ladies of the cast and their playwright, all of whom make their mark in this delightful comedy-drama." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“It matters little that the situations are old-hat, contrived, and manipulative; the African setting gives it a delightful twist, it's written with much wit, and it's so well-played by a first-rate cast, that you find yourself absorbed from its first words to its last. A huge hand must go to…director…Taichman for making this play so…spirited. 'School Girls'…has some moments of bitterly divisive meanness but, with its plentiful laughs and tears, it's also uplifting, unifying, and funny.” Full Review


“Most of MCC's excellent world premiere cast returns in Tony-winning director Rebecca Taichman's spot-on production. They're joined by a trio of terrific new colleagues in a production that effectively blends humor and bite to swiftly make its points in a play that's solidly satisfying in just 75 minutes." Full Review

The New York Times

"The nasty-teen comedy genre emerges wonderfully refreshed and even deepened by its immersion in a world it never considered...Beneath the infectious silliness of Biog's play’s adopted genre, the ugly question of internalized racism lurks...Mostly and smartly, she trusts the form; there’s a reason these stories work. Ms. Taichman’s production highlights all of those reasons...One of the production’s chief assets is the delicious ensemble work." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"A ferociously entertaining morality tale that proves as heartwarming as it is hilarious...Bioh makes an auspicious playwriting debut with this uproarious comedy that also pulls at the heartstrings...The broad humor occasionally lacks subtlety, and the piece feels like an extended one-act. But when was the last time you wished a play were actually longer?...Taichman provides a fast-paced staging that makes the play engaging from first minute to last." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Uproarious. Affecting, human, and sympathetic, too; but this is the funniest time you’ve spent in high school since those 'History Boys' came to town...The play is brightened by a uniformly talented cast. Boafo and Jones make a strong mismatch...Anyone who laughed through it last November is likely to urge friends to catch the play before it closes...Because yes, 'School Girls' is a joy to see." Full Review


“While you’re waiting for the musical version of the movie to arrive on Broadway this spring, warm up with this remarkable journey into a Ghanaian girls’ school...Staged by Taichman with an irresistible combination of verve and sensitivity, ‘School Girls’ is pretty impossible not to love, even as the play takes a predictable turn into heart-on-sleeve coming-of-age territory. The ensemble is flawless and so engaging that this MCC Theater production has now been extended twice." Full Review

Tim Teeman

"Punchy, crisp, and sly...The laughs are combined with some tougher drama...Race, ideals of beauty, and personal identity are at the heart of 'School Girls'—and they are uncompromisingly addressed by Bioh and the cast. The play is only 75 minutes long, and perhaps on the Lortel stage that makes sense. But it is so smart, quick, and intelligent this critic kept wishing it was longer. Maybe if it grows to a bigger stage, it just might." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"Actress Jocelyn Bioh’s professional playwriting debut is a sharp, uproarious tale...Tony-winning director Rebecca Taichman keeps it all in check, never letting things get out of hand or become too clichéd...'School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play' is no mere African American version of 'Mean Girls'; instead, it is as smart and entertaining, as sweet and honest, its characters as obnoxious and horrible and lovable and vulnerable, as teen girls themselves." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

“The humor keeps the pace up and the jokes land easily...The true worth and profundity of this play emerges gradually...The characters gain depth as we learn more about them...There is something so undeniably likable about the entire cast, who have clearly formed a strong ensemble...There is an energy and honesty to all of the performances...A light directorial touch by Taichman is surely to be credited here also; a laudable approach especially in handling a first script by a new playwright.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"Nearly assaultive hilarity...'School Girls' is a kind of Bioh bonanza; after several seasons of settling for just one of her, there are suddenly eight...Her brief play is missing its middle...Taichman leans so far into the bright Punch-and-Judy colors of the first 50 minutes that the last, humanistic 20 seem to take place on a different planet. Still, Bioh knows how to write a stunning breakdown scene, and Boafo handles the tonal switcheroo with ease." Full Review


"A first-rate production of Jocelyn Bioh’s very funny (and ultimately very sad) 'School Girls'...Bioh smartly captures the way teenagers talk and act towards each other...Fortunately, Bioh does equally well with the play’s two adult characters...Everything has been immaculately staged by Tony Award winner Rebecca Taichman, who guides all the women to sure-handed performances...The play feels a little slight sometimes...But its conclusion is just right." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Funny and fast-paced...Under Taichman’s confident hand, 'School Girls' rolls swiftly through its 75 minutes...'School Girls' is formulaic without being unsatisfying. Familiar structures, especially when full of fresh faces and sharp humor, can be deeply enjoyable...Its emotional and narrative leaps are fast, even a little too fast...Bioh knows how to craft bouncy, juicy dialogue that performers can have fun with." Full Review


"Ms. Bioh has flawlessly captured the rhythms and speech patterns of anxiety-ridden teens, with their razor-sharp lines of social demarcation and their endless reserve of passive aggression. But this is also a play whose characters do not fit the cardboard-cutout roles of traditional teen comedies." Full Review


"Colorism has real implications that we see brought to bear to stinging effect...This idea is explored in nuanced moments...’School Girls’ is also very funny...Sometimes, the play's brisk 75-minute pacing does lead to moments that feel simplified...It's a compliment to ‘School Girls’ to say that there could fruitfully be more of it...Bioh has crafted a fresh, keen interpretation of a frequently used trope, while Taichman and her cast have created a lively and satisfying production.” Full Review

Village Voice

“Imagine the cult-classic millennial satire ‘Mean Girls’ transposed to ’80s Africa and starring six high-school seniors at the Aburi Girls Boarding School competing for the crown of Miss Ghana 1986...As sprightly and funny as the play is — there’s still a heaviness to it. Seldom is this side of Africa seen: everyday teenage life, beauty, community, vulnerability, humor — humanity...Africa just can’t seem to win.” Full Review

New York Theater

"An often unsubtle but ultimately stimulating new play...What becomes clear is how deliberate Bioh’s crafting of her play and how intriguing her insights...The playwright also deftly draws character dynamics...Director Rebecca Taichman exhibits none of the ingenuity in stagecraft that won her the Tony...What the production has going for it above all is its eight-member cast — all wonderful, all women, an ensemble whose girlish enthusiasm feels so real that we revel in it.." Full Review

Funny, Intelligent, Must see, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if you want to see an absorbing play that's fun and funny as well; if you want to take advantage of the best that Off-Broadway offers

Don't see it if if you don't want to relive what might be painful memories of high school cliques; if you only like Broadway plays or musicals

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if You’re looking to experience a show that only deals with being a teenage girl but also colorism and choices adults make.

Don't see it if You want something light. There is levity throughout but it gets very intense.

Funny, Ambitious, Clever

See it if If you are looking to support up and coming playwright and a cast of fierce actresses.

Don't see it if you don’t like female driven stories.

Funny, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Great writing

See it if you missed it in its initial run, you enjoy biting comedies, or are a fan of female-led plays

Don't see it if you’d rather see a musical or a play that’s longer than just over an hour

Also I actually can’t see why the average theatregoer wouldn’t like School ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Profound, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you have a pulse. Honestly, everyone should see this show.

Don't see it if you have problems understanding accents. Or still go, but then have someone explain what they said after the fact.

Also If you've ever overheard someone talking about how important it is to ... Read more Read less

Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if you love great acting, comedy, and some serious issues tackled with love, grace, humor, and care.

Don't see it if you're after a tragedy

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if Totally absorbing, funny, sad, tense and entertaining. Offers lots to think about, many issues brought up. Would be great for teenagers.

Don't see it if You want to see a big broadway musical or something with extravagant sets and costumes. But set, costumes etc were all perfect for this show

Also I'm so happy MCC brought this back. I'd felt terrible about missing it... Read more Read less

Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if You want to see a different version of mean girls. You want to see a show with an excellent cast that delivers important messages

Don't see it if You only like musicals. You like shows with a large cast. You don't like shows about race.

Also This was excellent. It's funny and at times a little sad. Important me... Read more Read less

Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Must see, Great writing

See it if you appreciate sharp, smart plays that treat teenage girls, their dynamics, & their traumas with respect, warmth, & humor (a la The Wolves)

Don't see it if you find accents difficult to understand during quick dialogue and are unwilling to put in the effort to try to keep up

Funny, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if A refreshing night's entertainment with a message. Nicely written, great cast.

Don't see it if I really think anyone would enjoy this.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Powerful, Charming

See it if you want a play that touches you, makes you laugh, teaches you, challenges your preconceptions.Powerful statement about racial identity

Don't see it if you are looking for a fun musical like Mean Girls.In addition to dealing with high school bullies, this shines light of racial exclusion.

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant

See it if You like funny, freshly written plays that don't give clear answers. Ready 4 All Female

Don't see it if You're not interested in plays by and about women of color, African culture or the "other" - want a light bite @theatre

Funny, Absorbing, Clever

See it if you're looking for a good time at the theatre. plenty of laughs

Don't see it if you're looking for something dramatic or heavy.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if Great acting. A wonderful ensembel. good story

Don't see it if there is really no reason to stay away.

Delightful, Profound, Resonant, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you want a whip-smart comedy-drama with truthful dialogue, charming cultural references, and a sobering moral.

Don't see it if you don't like plays about young peoples' experiences.

Must see, Profound, Great writing, Hilarious

See it if You want to be immersed into a world of relevant concepts, with lightheartedness, but also an awakening and entertaining story.

Don't see it if You expect mean girls the musical. It is based on the same concept, but definitely not a mirror image of it

Refreshing, Fun, Great staging, Smart

See it if One of the best new plays I've seen in the past few years. A smart, absolute delight of a teen melodrama. Excellent on all levels.

Don't see it if Must see.

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Refreshing, Great writing

See it if You want to experience an intelligent play that deals with global adolescent issues and how to best resolve them. Reminiscent of Lord of

Don't see it if You expect a children’s play or musical comedy. You are offended by occasional profanity and confrontation.

Also the Flies. Competition, bullying, shaming, morality, etc. It touches o... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if Brilliant fresh take on the mean girl genre played out in an African school that makes audience grapple with its cultural and racial biases

Don't see it if You don’t want to laugh or deal with issue of race, feminine beauty and cultural appropriation ; but this is so good and so well directed go

Funny, Delightful, Great acting

See it if You want to see something short, smart, poignant and funny. Great acting.

Don't see it if You don't like plays set in the 80's.

Funny, Great acting, Must see, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You want a fresh voice, great acting and overall entertaining show. Funny, but also moving.

Don't see it if It gets a little dark at points

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if You want to explore what goes on in teens girls heads and want a different vantage point than the typical white American high school scene.

Don't see it if Want a musical, or don't value seeing inside another culture.

Also After seeing Jocelyn Bioh act I was excited to see the play she wrote.... Read more Read less

Funny, Must see, Feminist, Deep, Exquisite acting, directing, writing

See it if Perfect show honestly, it’s short and sweet, these ladies are badass! don’t want to miss their story, theatre that changes the game

Don't see it if Not looking for something that can get dark, girls being mean to each other (like the title), SEE IT

Delightful, Great acting, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want an utterly delightful, smart, funny, charming 75 minutes.

Don't see it if Can't think of a reason.

Funny, Delightful, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Powerful

See it if you love funny, spunky and cool plays that don't present clear answers. Thoughtful, hip, young, feminist, diverse: a truly c21 play!

Don't see it if you're not interested in plays by and about women of color, about other cultures, or you're comfortable with stereotypical views of Africa.

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Cast & Creatives (15)