Goodman Theatre reopens with ‘African Mean Girls Play’

 

Mean girls Play at Goodman Theatre. : (L to R) Adhana Reid (Ama), Tiffany Renee Johnson (Mercy), Adia Alli (Gifty), Ashley Crowe (Nana) and Tania Richard (Headmistress Francis). (Photo by Flint Chaney).
Mean girls Play at Goodman Theatre. : (L to R) Adhana Reid (Ama), Tiffany Renee Johnson (Mercy), Adia Alli (Gifty), Ashley Crowe (Nana) and Tania Richard (Headmistress Francis). (Photo by Flint Chaney).

In March of 2020, three days before “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play” was set to open, Goodman Theatre was forced to shut down due to COVID. It was thought the shutdown would be temporary.

When it wasn’t, the organization pivoted and turned to streaming. The play was viewed in 45 states, 13 countries and was seen by more than 1,600 Chicago Public School students.

“School Girls” is now back in session, live.

Deceptively funny with dark undertones, the play revolves around a group of high school girls at an exclusive boarding school in Ghana.

The reigning “Queen Bee” has her sights on the Miss Ghana beauty pageant to compete for “Miss Universe.” But then new girl, Ericka, enters the scene and it’s a game-changer for everyone.

Expect a laugh every few minutes as the girls engage in comedic banter about clothes, looks, and family background that showcase the similarities of teenage girls across the globe.

What was truly funny was their perception of American cultural icons like White Castle, Nike Shoes and Wal-Mart.

But bullying, blackmail and deception all come into view.

Starring Adia Alli (Gifty), Kyrie Courter (Ericka Boafo), Ashley Crowe (Nana), Ciera Dawn (Paulina Sarpong), Tiffany Renee Johnson (Mercy), Adhana Reid (Ama), Tania Richard (Headmistress Francis) and Lanise Antoine Shelley (Eloise Amponsah, the eight actors show powerful performances in a range of emotions from silly joy to deep frustration.

Mention must be made of Kyrie Courter’s amazing voice when she sings Whitney Houston’s, “The Greatest Love of All.”

The play was written by Ghanaian-American playwright Jocelyn Bioh, who was inspired by the 2011 beauty pageant in Ghana.

Directed by Lili-Anne Brown with quick precision and impeccable comedic timing, the ambience on the stage slowly turns into something more realistic, frightening and contemporary – as racism rears its ugly head.

Kudos to costume designer Samantha C. Jones for the girls’ beautiful gowns and elegant dress for Eloise Amponsah.

“School Girls” runs through August 29, 2021  in the Albert Theatre. Run time:  Approximately 80 minutes with no intermission. Seating is limited and masks are required.

Goodman theatre is at 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago. For tickets and other information visit Goodman Theatre/Here.

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

Mira Temkin

 

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