CINCINNATI (April 19, 2022) – The Off-Broadway coming-of-age story SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY sold out its run in New York. Now, Cincinnati audiences can enjoy a new production that takes them into the endlessly entertaining world of teenage girlhood when it plays in the Marx Theatre this spring. Presented by Moe & Jack Rouse and Randolph Wadsworth, the show begins April 30 and runs through May 22. Opening night is May 5.
The New York Times called the play “a gleeful African makeover of an American genre,” while The Hollywood Reporter called it “ferociously entertaining.”
SCHOOL GIRLS combines coming-of-age drama with sharp comedy for an entertaining, teenage morality tale with a nod to Tina Fey’s comedy Mean Girls. At the same time, its reflections on such themes as colorism, hair, body image and socioeconomics open the door to a relevant discussion of Black culture.
Paulina, the reigning Queen Bee of Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school, finds her carefully controlled world thrown into chaos when new girl Ericka arrives from America and captures the envy of their peers. What’s more, Paulina finds her quest to become Miss Ghana 1986 threatened when Ericka captures the attention of a pageant recruiter.
SCHOOL GIRLS is written by Jocelyn Bioh, an award-winning Ghanaian American writer and performer. Her plays, including SCHOOL GIRLS, have been produced extensively in New York and around the country. She has been a staff writer for the Netflix series Russian Doll and Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. Bioh has also been tapped to write a musical adaptation of the Caribbean fairy tale Once on This Island for Disney+.
“In the case of School Girls, as a dark-skinned woman, I know in a very personal and visceral way what it’s like to feel inferior to people who are lighter-skinned than me,” Bioh says in an interview with Women and Hollywood. “The journey to owning and accepting beauty was a really long one, and I always knew I would address that in a play, but I wasn’t sure how. It didn’t feel like an after-school special because that’s also not my thing. Colorism is played out in my play, although it’s not mentioned. That’s why I think the story really lives.”
The Playhouse’s $10 Tuesday program returns during SCHOOL GIRLS on the Tuesday, May 3 performance. A minimum of 100 tickets will be available.
Patrice Bell (Eloise Amponsah), Kaitlyn Boyer (Ericka Boafo), Burgess Byrd (Headmistress Francis), Kayla Forde (Mercy), Jasmine Cheri Rush (Gifty), Matenin Sangare (Ama), Markia Nicole Smith (Paulina Sarpong), Starnubia (Nana)
Jocelyn Bioh (Playwright), Candis C. Jones (Director), Milagros Ponce de León (Set Designer), Kristie Chiyere Osi (Costume Designer), Daisy Long (Lighting Designer) Rucyl Frison, (Sound Designer/Composer), Stephanie Klapper, CSA (Casting Director), Andrea L. Shell (Stage Manager), Brook Redler (Second Stage Manager), Brandon T. Holmes (Assistant Stage Manager)
To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888 (toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana at 800-582-3208) or visit www.cincyplay.com. For patrons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled, dial 711 to connect to the Box Office via Ohio Relay Services.
Performances on Tuesdays through Saturdays will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. There is one Wednesday matinee at 1 p.m. on May 11.
Individual tickets start at just $35. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show for all other performances. Discounted ticket prices for teens are available for all productions and are $30 to $45, depending on show and seat location. During the run, there will be three post-show meet-the-artist discussions, one audio-described performance and one signed performance. Details are on the website.
The $10 tickets may only be purchased in-person at the Playhouse Box Office beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3 when the building opens to the public. Limit two per person. No advance reservations or choice of seating.
Recommended for ages 13 and up. The competition for Miss Ghana is fierce, and while they’re in pursuit of the crown, contestants use adult language and have frank discussions of body shaming, classism, colorism and self-image.
PLAYHOUSE PERSPECTIVES: If the Present Looks Like the Past: A Conversation About Colorism
Monday, May 16 at 6 p.m. at the Playhouse
Author Alice Walker defines colorism as “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.” SCHOOL GIRLS displays the ways colorism affects the Black community, and particularly young Black girls as they are discovering their identity. Join us for an engaging dialogue with actors from the play and community members to discuss and share experiences and to learn about colorism. Panelists include Burgess Byrd and Markia Nicole Smith (actors from the play) and Dr. Shantel Thomas.
This event is free, but registration is required by calling the Box Office at 513-421-3888 or visiting cincyplay.com. Playhouse Perspectives is made possible thanks to a generous gift from Barbara and Roderick Barr.
MEET THE ARTISTS
Stay after select performances for a behind-the-scenes discussion with the cast and crew:
- May 8 at 2 p.m.
- May 18 at 7:30 p.m.
- May 22 at 2 p.m.
AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCE (May 21 at 2 p.m.) Each Marx Theatre production offers one audio-described performance during the show’s run. Trained volunteers describe the visual elements of the production via a closed-circuit receiver that is approximately the size of a deck of cards and fits in a jacket pocket or on the lap. A small earpiece fits into one ear, allowing patrons to hear dialogue, music and other sound effects. The description is timed to avoid interfering with dialogue.
SIGNED PERFORMANCE (May 22 at 2 p.m.) Each Marx Theatre production offers one signed performance during the show’s run. The interpreter stands toward the bottom of aisle 5. Look at our Accessibility page for a map of best viewing locations. This performance also includes a Meet the Artists discussion with the cast and crew after the show. Funding for this program is made possible by Bartlett & Co.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Beginning on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, the masking requirement for performances at the Playhouse will change. Face masks will be strongly encouraged, but not required, while inside the Playhouse facility. Single-use masks are available upon request. Proof of vaccination and/or a negative test are not required to enter, and all other procedures also remain the same and can be found on our health and safety page.
Presented by Moe & Jack Rouse and Randolph Wadsworth. Production sponsor is RotoRooter. Artist Sponsors are Kisling, Nestico and Redick and Messer Construction. Honorary Producers are Charles and Joann Mead. Additional support by Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Marx Theatre Season presented by The Scheuler Group. The Rosenthal Family Foundation is a season sponsor of new work. Marx Theatre season design sponsor is US Bank.
The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of more than 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation.
The Playhouse is fully accessible. Audio enhancement receivers, large print programs, and complete wheelchair access are available.