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Previews start Oct 16

School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play

Members say: Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Relevant, Clever

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?

... Read 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.')


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90
Theatermania

"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

90
TheaterScene.net

“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

90
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

90
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

90
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

90
Interludes

“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

85
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

85
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

85
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

85
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

85
Deadline

“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

85
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

85
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

80
BroadwayWorld

"Endearing and poignant...Taichman delivers another spot-on production, with Bioh's realistic blend of humor and bite swiftly making its points in a play that's solidly satisfying...The joy of the moment comes when watching the young women with limited singing capabilities cheerfully having their moment in the spotlight...With the rest of the play being funny and issue-oriented, 'School Girls' is most touching when focused on the nice girls." Full Review

80
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

80
CitiTour

"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

80
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

80
scribicide

"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

80
CurtainUp

"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

80
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

75
Variety

"Delightful ensemble work...The play is full of light and laughter...It’s impossible not to laugh at their clever, but cruel schoolgirl humor. At the same time, it’s impossible not to brood over the importance they place on skin tone...One thing you cannot call this play is subtle...Bioh goes too far with the character of Paulina, who is an insufferably over-the-top narcissist and far too polished a villain." Full Review

75
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

75
Newsday

"It starts out sitcom funny, with six young women chattering...mostly about who will be chosen to compete in the coming Miss Ghana pageant...A young woman just returned from America whose lighter skin makes her in the eyes of some more likely to win...Watching these young women deal with the harsh realities thrown at them, whether with stone-faced silence or gut-wrenching primal screams, gives significant depth to plays that might otherwise seem superficial." Full Review

70
Front Row Center

"It is a lot of fun—punctuated by moments of stunning cruelty and painful revelation...There is much that rings painfully true in Bioh’s seventy-minute immersion in those estrogen-charged, initiation-to-adulthood dramas, rife with both tenderly shared secrets and blindsiding betrayals. But there is something more here...'School Girls' delivers enough punch to keep you engaged and entertained—even if the payoff punch is a tad short of a knockout." Full Review

65
The Wrap

“Is there anything new and funny to be said about beauty contests? Bioh takes on that challenge in her new and very first play...Bioh sets that most superficial of competitions in a girls’ boarding school in the Aburi Mountains of central Ghana...Taichman directs her young actors to deliver their performances in bright, primary colors...Comedy can be serious business, but Bioh doesn’t trust her own humor...When did plays become skits with a moral stuck on at the end?” Full Review


85
Great acting, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you like high school theme and an all female casts.

Don't see it if you don't like high school subject matters.

100
During previews
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you love Heathers and Mean Girls. The writing is tight, the acting is superb, the staging simple.

Don't see it if You don’t like new plays. Or New Edition.

100
During previews
Funny, Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Delightful

See it if You like clever and engaging theater thats very well written

Don't see it if you are racist

100
During previews
Funny, Exquisite, Great acting, Must see, Perfect

See it if you love great plays that are funny and profound at the same time!

Don't see it if I can't think of anyone that wouldn't like this play. Perfect blend of comedy and drama.

100
During previews
Clever, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you want to watch something lighthearted and funny yet rooted in social issues and reality, you want a well-written and concise play

Don't see it if you want epic staging and spectacle, you just want pure fluff or pure seriousness

100
During previews
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Well written

See it if If you like a very funny and heartfelt play with excellent acting that is very well written.

Don't see it if Any references to any type of racism makes you uncomfortable.

Also Excellent acting across the board. You are laughing even as the seriou... Read more Read less

100
During previews
Funny, Clever, Great writing

See it if You want a clever new tilt on teen girl rival tropes

Don't see it if No, do see it, it's great!

100
During previews
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if You want to see a group of strong women of color play honest everyday people rather than slaves or criminals.

Don't see it if You rather stick to watching all white cast shows

100
During previews
Funny, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing, Terrific ensemble acting

See it if You want to be among the first to see this terrific new play that I predict will extend its run and then transfer to more prominent theatre!

Don't see it if You don’t enjoy plays about the quintessential female high school experience. You’re looking for a big splashy production.

Also This new play deserves to make a huge splash ! I cannot criticize even... Read more Read less

100
During previews
Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Must see, Relevant

See it if you like nuanced dramadies about human relationships and interactions.

Don't see it if like big fluffy musicals

Also Absolutely LOVED this show. Funny, brisk and thought-provoking; it giv... Read more Read less

99
During previews
Exquisite, Great acting, Must see, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want to see a terrifc new play with one of the best ensemble casts I've ever seen. This is more than jus about high school. Beautiful.

Don't see it if you don't like seeing a play about teenage girls. Otherwise, no reason to see it.

Also Very exciting to discover a new writer. This will be a big hit so get ... Read more Read less

99
During previews
Funny, Clever, Exquisite, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you want a funny and insightful evening, which should resonate, regardless of politics, gender, age, etc. It is written and directed well.

Don't see it if you want a diatribe or a manifesto. This play is about humanity, not ideology

98
During previews
Funny, Great acting, Must see, Relevant, Hilarious

See it if you like quick paced plays that are fresh, poignant, and funny. This play will not disappoint.

Don't see it if If you only enjoy serious plays or musicals. (Although this play offers both drama and singing at times!)

Also This 75 minute play is set in 1986 Ghana at an all girl's boarding sch... Read more Read less

98
During previews
Funny, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you are interested in well-written plays addressing issues like bullying, colorism, and the dominant culture's stereotypes of female beauty.

Don't see it if you are uninterested in teens and other cultures.

Also This is a very well-written, well-staged and well-acted play. It's a v... Read more Read less

98
During previews
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want to see an honest portrayal of the affects of colourism and euro-centric beauty standards within communities of colour.

Don't see it if shows that deal with problems faced by communities of colour don't interest you.

97
During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if brilliantly written play about school cliques, women's body image and women's place in society

Don't see it if an all woman cast and women's issues. don't see it if you're looking for something a little more manly

96
During previews
Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You are interested in a thought-provoking story with conflict and drive. It is relevant in today's world. It's very well done.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in the topic of teen girls in Ghana. Don't like loud music between scenes.

95
During previews
Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound, Resonant

See it if you are interested in narratives of young Black and Ghanaian women as depicted by a masterful Ghanaian-American playwright (Jocelyn Bioh)

Don't see it if you are averse to plays without intermissions; you expect staunch faithfulness to Tina Fey's Mean Girls; you are solely seeking humor

95
During previews
Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing, Hilarious

See it if You can related to high school drama and want a refreshingly new take on it--the scene being Ghana adds bigger picture problems.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in the problems and competition between high school girls, or you had trouble understanding accents.

Also Absolutely loved this play and highly recommend! Acting is great and w... Read more Read less

95
During previews
Funny, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if you want to see great actors in a well-written very funny play.

Don't see it if N/A

95
During previews
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Entertaining, Bittersweet

See it if You are interested in how dominant culture spreads and how deeply ingrained self-criticism is for girls everywhere.

Don't see it if You want to see a male actor.

Also Masterful storytelling with humor and pathos, character development, a... Read more Read less

95
During previews
Thoughtful, Smart, Warm, Eye-opening

See it if you want an eye-opening glimpse into how other cultures are not so different after all; you want to see and support exciting new performers.

Don't see it if you easily write off young people's attitudes and concerns as trivial; you want more out of theater than a simple single stage setup.

94
During previews
Funny, Thought-provoking, Must see, Refreshing, Hilarious

See it if you are a human.

Don't see it if you hate great theater.

94
During previews
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if enjoy funny scenes and experiences from high school days

Don't see it if you prefer musicals

94
During previews
Funny, Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You want to catch a hilarious yet thoughtful peek at a side of African life we rarely see portrayed in American entertainment.

Don't see it if My only complaint was that it was too short. I felt like there was even more room for these characters and this story, but...still see it.


Cast & Creatives (15)