“On Wednesdays we wear pink!”
If you recognize this quote, you’ll want to be at West Orange High School later this month for an evening of more memorable quotes and laughter at the theater department’s season-closing production of “Mean Girls High School Version.”
Tara Whitman, director of the WOHS Theatre Department, hopes the community will come out and enjoy the fun show.
“This is a really good script, and they really get the essence of the movie… but they gave it its own identity for the stage,” Whitman said.
Joining the theater students will be members of the school’s jazz and symphonic bands performing in the pit, Whitman said.
Close to 55 students have toiled over the production, with about 30 in the cast.
Six seniors are part of “Mean Girls,” students Whitman refers to as the Sensational Six. With just a few exceptions, they have been with the WOHS Theatre Department all four years of high school.
“This show will see our seniors off,” said Whitman, a 2002 WOHS graduate who studied theater under Ken Rush. “They are a small but mighty group who have persevered through the pandemic as freshmen, virtual performance as sophomores, regrouping as juniors and flourishing as seniors. The Sensational Six have been a vital part of making each and every of show (14) a success. The majority of them will leave us to pursue degrees and opportunities in the arts, and they all leave quite the legacy behind.
“They came in as freshmen willing to work hard with phenomenal ability, great attitudes and personalities, and they’ve been here since,” she said. “They’re all reliable; they all have made the program better. They have become mentors to the lowerclassmen and cared about me and the peers.”
Gretchen Olah plays Cady Heron, the character Lindsay Lohan portrayed in the 2004 movie.
“It’s all interesting fun,” Olah said. “This is actually my dream role. The Broadway shows came out when I was in seventh grade, and that sparked my interest as a career. When it came out, I decided that’s what I wanted to do in real life. So that’s come full circle, now that I’m a senior and going to college for it.”
She has performed and worked a tech role in past years. She was co-marketing officer for the theater department in her sophomore year and vice president in her junior year and has served as president in her senior year. In addition, Olah is one of six officers in the International Thespian program and will present a workshop at its festival in June.
She will study musical theater at the University of Alabama after graduation with plans to work in the film and television industry.
Megan Stringer portrays Karen Smith, one of The Plastics, who Stringer jokingly calls “the dumber one.” Her favorite part of the show is Karen’s number called “Sexy.”
“It’s basically a huge Halloween party, and everyone’s dressed up, and it’s really fun,” she said. “We have fun choreographies; it’s also a fun song to sing.”
There is an important message in the show, Stringer said.
“Cady … goes through trying to fit in and find her way around high school, and I think it shows a really good message to really be yourself,” she said. “Even if that means hanging out with the different kids. … Stay true to yourself and do you. I think it’s really relatable to a lot of people who are going to come to the show.”
Stringer has participated in all 14 shows the theater department has produced since her freshman year.
“I’ve done every single show in West Orange,” she said. “I love it. Every show is different, every show is a new experience, whether it’s on stage or off stage. I’ve met a lot of cool people, a lot of friends. It’s nice to be committed to something and be involved every year.”
Stringer will attend the University of Tampa in the fall to major in musical theater.
Lucy DeFelice is in charge of all choreography for “Mean Girls.”
“That’s my place to figure out what people do when,” she said. “I really like seeing movement in songs, but I also like seeing it when it all comes together. You piece it together one at a time, but when you see it come together it’s all super, super cool.”
This show is special to DeFelice because it’s her final one at West Orange.
“Four years of shows you’ve put a lot of work into every single show, and as a last one we want to make it memorable and amazing for the seniors and everyone else,” she said. “Every show is special, but for us as seniors we want to go out with a bang.”
DeFelice is headed to the University of Central Florida to major in business, and although she won’t be seeking a career in theater, she said she hopes to continue it as a hobby.
Alex Battenfield is the show’s stage manager and has enjoyed collaborating with his team and mentoring the younger students. He’s excited for his final show.
“It’s always been the neat thing, the glorious last show,” Battenfield said. “It’s always been hyped up to me as a freshman and seeing the seniors being able to celebrate. … Then we got to my sophomore year and … my first time to stage manage on my own. The person who mentored me, I was able see her last bow on stage, and it was a very emotional moment.”
He plans to attend Valdosta State University and enter the stage management track, working toward a degree in production technical theater.
Ariana Diaz is the props chief and has created most of the props for the show. Her backstage role is to make sure all actors have their props before they take the stage.
“I like that I’m able to do so many different things,” she said. “It’s not the same thing each day. I work on a bunch of different projects … and just learn how to create as we go. … It’s my last show. … I just love working with the people. They’re very nice and very fun to work with. … I want to work with these people one last time and make it one to remember.”
For Kevin Mercier, theater has been an opportunity to work both sides of the stage all four years. He is serving as set crew for “Mean Girls,” helping with design and construction and making sure everyone follows safety protocol — and he also portrays Principal Duvall and Mr. Heron.
He’s excited to see the final product this week.
“I just like seeing everything come together at the end,” Mercier said. “There’s so much work involved, but at the end you just get a view of the whole thing together, and it’s very fulfilling.”
Mercier has been involved in West Orange’s theater program since his freshman year, but he actually debuted on the WOHS stage since he portrayed a Munchkin in “The Wizard of Oz” when he was 5.
“That’s what got me hooked,” he said.
Mercier is deciding between two colleges at which to pursue a history degree — but he said he might select theater as a minor.