Review: ‘Girlfriend from Hell: The Musical’ at The Green Room 42

When Maggie Miller just can’t take any more abuse from the popular clique of mean girls, dream guys, and high-school bullies, her cries for help are answered by the Devil himself. At the cost of her soul, he changes her from the geeky tormented wallflower she was, into a hot rock goddess of the underworld, out for revenge in Girlfriend from Hell: The Musical by Sean Matthew Whiteford (book, music, and lyrics).

Sean Matthew Whiteford and the band. Photo by Matt Yeager.
Sean Matthew Whiteford and the band. Photo by Matt Yeager.

As part of its New Works Series, The Green Room 42 presented a one-night-only staged concert version of the outrageous parody of ‘80s horror films and rock genres (from heavy metal and grunge to hard rock infused with Country twang and Christian devotion). Directed by Rachel Klein with non-stop energy and over-the-top camp, the New York premiere featured Whiteford’s original high-voltage score, performed by a kick-ass band (Dylan DeBiase on bass, Justin Varuzzo on drums, and Mark Garthwait and Dean DiMarzo, who provided the musical arrangements, on guitar) and a powerhouse roster of stars from such Millennial-favorite Broadway hits as Rock of Ages, Heathers the Musical, and RENT.

Rachel Klein (left), Sean Matthew Whiteford (kneeling, left front), and the cast. Photo by Matt Yeager.
Rachel Klein (left), Sean Matthew Whiteford (kneeling, left front), and the cast. Photo by Matt Yeager.

Costumed in a wild array of vintage-style fashions by Juda Leah, the ensemble interspersed some funny segments of action and dialogue between their numbers to help the audience follow along with the narrative. The lyrics and flavor of the songs also clearly defined the archetypes and advanced the plot, as well as offering a satirical send-up of the decade (using the familiar expressions of the era, “dude,” like “He Thinks I’m Awesome,” “What the Fuck?,” “She’s in Deep Shit,” “She’s Smokin’ Hot,” and “You’re, Like, Super Famous!”), and the hellish experience of navigating through high school.

Josephine Rose Roberts led the cast as Maggie, making the transformation from a clueless girl in glasses, bulky sweater, and overalls, tricked into going to a party for her impossible crush Rocco (Richard Jarrett) – as her antagonist and his girlfriend Tiffani, played by Tracy McDowell, taunted, “None of this is suspicious or weird” – to her “M-A-K-E-O-V-E-Over” as a demonic rocker with big hair, high heels, stretch pants, and a fiery temper. Whiteford turned in blockbuster heavy-metal vocals and rock-star moves as Satan, encouraging Maggie to “Raise Some Hell,” as did Giuliana DePietro as her tattooed and mohawked BFF Debbie Dykovich (the reveal is in the name), who taught her what’s really important in life (“All I’ve Ever Wanted”). Rounding out the terrific ensemble were Justin Matthew Sargent, Neka Zang, Kerry Gibbons, Jay Schmidt, and Michael Siktberg, all delivering the high-octane music and the satirical characterizations.

The Green Room 42’s hard-hitting stage concert of Girlfriend from Hell: The Musical gives every indication that Whiteford’s hilarious high-school horror show has the makings of a rock-musical cult classic. Let’s hope a full-stage incarnation of it will rise up in the near future.

Running Time: Approximately 65 minutes, without intermission.

Girlfriend from Hell: The Musical played Saturday, April 6, 2019, at The Green Room 42 – 570 10th Avenue, Yotel, 4th floor, NYC. For a calendar of upcoming shows at the venue, call (646) 449-7792, or go online.