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Hedwig at Jannus
Feb 2-27, 2022

School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play


By Jocelyn Bioh


  • Wednesdays and Thursdays @ 7pm
  • Friday & Saturday Evenings @ 8pm
  • Saturday and Sun Matinees at 2pm


Wednesday Preview, February 2, “Pay What You Can” at the door or $20 in advance
Thursday Preview, February 3, $20
Wednesday and Thursday Evenings & Saturday Matinees, $47
Sunday Matinees, $53
Friday/Saturday Evenings, $53/57
Opening Night, February 4, $75

Gala Under The Stars
Park Map
No Tickets Available

Picture it. 1986. An all girls school in Ghana and there’s a new girl in town, an American, who challenges the reigning queen bee. There’s a prestigious pageant on the line, which could provide the opportunity to move up in the world to the lucky winner.  This is a funny and touching story about the universal teenage struggle, and the need to feel like you belong. The Hollywood Reporter said it was “ferociously entertaining, as heartwarming as it is hilarious” and the Washington Post called it a “charming comedy of adolescent angst.”

“A ferociously entertaining morality tale that proves as heartwarming as it is hilarious…” —Hollywood Reporter

School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play is 90 minutes with no intermission.

Mainstage Sponsor

  • Willi Rudowsky & Hal Freedman
  • Russell Buchan
  • Beth A. Houghon & Scott K Wagman
  • Gwendolyn & Gordon Johnson
  • Anastasia C. Hiotis
    Opening Night Host

Digital Program Sponsor

Commemorative Program Sponsor

Meet The Team

Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj

Rajendra is a multi-disciplinary American Theater Artist, Administrator, and Activist. Mr. Maharaj was twice hailed in The New York Times as a Critics Pick for his work in the American Theater and a member of the BIPOC Leadership Circle. He is currently the Producing Artistic Director and Resident Playwright of American Stage.

Mr. Maharaj has been honored with many awards including the prestigious Woodie King Jr. Award, four Vivian Robinson AUDELCO Awards, Barrymore Award, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Theatrical Moment of the Year, The New York International Fringe Festival Overall Excellence Award, Theater Communications Group Directors Grant and Playwriting Grant, Recipient of the 2020 National Alliance for Musical Theater Fifteen-Minute Musical Theater Challenge Award.

As a storyteller, Mr. Maharaj has worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and at many of our nation’s top Regional Theaters including the Bernard B. Jacobs, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture, The Public, Second Stage Theatre, Soho Playhouse, Classical Theater of Harlem, , Nuyorican Poets Café, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Lark Play Development Center, Actors Theater of Louisville, Goodman Theater, The Kennedy Center, and Arkansas Repertory Theater.

Mr. Maharaj’s was a finalist for the 2021 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. And he is the recipient of the 2021 Negro Ensemble Company Cutting Edge Playhouse Playwriting Residency.

Harlen Penn#
Scenic Designer

Harlan Penn is a graduate of Florida A & M University (BS Theatre) and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (MFA Scenic Design). Companies Penn has designed for include the Birmingham Children's Theatre, Black Spectrum Theatre, St. Louis Black Rep, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Paul Robeson Theatre, Anacostia Playhouse, American Stage., ForestBurgh Playhouse, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Theatre Alliance of Washington D.C., Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Kennesaw State University of Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Howard University department of Theatre Arts, and many more. Favorite Scenic design credits include: Gem of the Ocean, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Jar the Floor, The Piano Lesson, Jitney, Nicholas Nickleby, Flyin' West, Dreamgirls, For Colored Girls, King Hedley, Chicago, Ain't Misbehavin and Extremities to name a few. Mr. Penn is also a proud member of United Scenic Artist Local 829 where he works currently as an assistant art director and Scenic artist on major films and network television shows.

The Band

Meet The Cast

Phyllis Yvonne Stickney*
Headmistress Francis

Phyllis was most recently seen in “Shameless” and has performed in over 30 films including “New Jack City,” “What’s Love Got To Do With It?,” “The Inkwell,” “Malcolm X.” However, Theatre is where it all began for Ms. Stickney from Harlem’s New Heritage Theatre to Lincoln Center and the various theatre festivals and events her career spans 40 years. Winning 1st place at the world famous Apollo Theatre is also one of her many accomplishments.

Ms. Stickney was named “one of the 200 African American women who has changed the World”. Comedy or drama Ms. Stickney is comfortable with any genre and aims to bring her best to any role. An AUDELCO AWARD recipient in 1998 Ms. Stickney was inducted into the Black Hall of Fame, in 2006 and various years she received the CUSTODIAN OF THE CULTURAL CONSCIOUSNESS AWARD, C.T.Vivian passed the TORCH OF LEADERSHIP among others.

Jada Austin

Jada is a singer and actress from Clearwater, FL. She is thrilled to be returning to the stage after three years away and making her American stage debut. She was most recently seen as a character performer at ZooTampa as well as a vocalist at Disney’s Candlelight Processional. She would like to thank her family and her boyfriend, Eduardo, for encouraging her to follow her dreams. Follow her @missjadaa_

Massiel Evans

Massiel is a passionate island girl from Nassau, The Bahamas. She recently received her Bachelor’s degree in Acting and Directing from Eastern Connecticut State University along with a film studies minor. While in The Bahamas, Massiel has starred in two local plays and one local bahamian movie. Her first year in undergrad she received the leading role in a main stage production called Chitra. Since then she has starred in four other shows as an actress, two shows as an assistant director for Eastern and for a professional theater company, Spectrum Theater and ended her college career by directing a main stage production called Blood at the Root. She has also written, directed and filmed two small pieces under her film studies minor. She made her American stage debut last year in The Odd Couple as Cecily and now she is excited to be casted in the show School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls Play as Mercy.

Siobhan Marie Hunter*
Ericka Boafo

Siobhan is thrilled to make her debut at American Stage! Other credits include Diane in [cowboy face] (Dixon Place), Black in The Mis-Education of America  (Letter of Marque) and Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show (JCC CenterStage Theater). She received her B.A. in Theater Arts from SUNY Fredonia. Siobhan would like to give special thanks to her Mother, Grandparents, the rest of her family and friends for always uplifting and supporting her work.

Aguel Lual*
Paulina Sarpong

Aguel is a New York based, Nebraska raised actor, and the proud daughter of South Sudanese refugees. Some of her favorite credits include Mash in Stupid F*Cking Bird (Parallel 45) and Ronny in Hair (Nebraska Repertory Theatre.)

Phineas Slaton

Phineas is a young artist living in Brandon and St. Petersburg. While currently minoring in theatre at Eckerd College, they have been seen at St. Petersburg City Theater with credits such as Corie in Barefoot In The Park, and Sapphi Van Helsing in Dracula: The Vampire Strikes Back. Recent credits include Rafiki in The Lion King, The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui, and a directing credit of The Perfect Ending at Howard W. Blake High School of the Arts. Phineas is extremely excited to be joining American Stage with this opportunity and can’t wait to see the show come to life!

Ivy Sunflower

Ivy has recently been seen as Jenny Rappaport in the featured film “I Need I Want” . Additionally as Mom in the comedy film “What Tha Hell”, “The Decision” as Belinda, and Shaun in the comedy series “Nothing Else Matters”. However, Ms. Sunflower’s first love is the stage. Cassandra in Big Girls Need Love Too (Inkwell Centre), A Conversation With Myself as April (Outcast Theatre Collective), and behind the scenes as the Assistant Director of Dionysus On The Down Low (Outcast Theatre Collective) have been a few. Ivy also teaches improv virtually for beginner performers. She’s working to open up a black box theatre for the community. She received her degree from Broward College and has trained with  Robert Nation, A TALE OF TWO CITIES and Daniel Torres, EVITA. Ivy wants to thank her partner Cash, her family and friends for their support in making this dream happen.

Jennifer Leigh Warren*
Eloise Ampohsah

Jennifer is lauded for her show-stopping Broadway performances as the original Alice’s Daughter in Big River (singing “How Blest We Are” written for her by composer Roger Miller), the original Crystal in the Howard Ashman/Alan Menken hit Little Shop Of Horrors, the original Marie Christine cast and Rent: Live. In Power To The People, she made her Disney Concert Hall debut with the LA Philharmonic, appeared in Sir Peter Hall’s Shakespeare Repertory Company, won the Ovation Award in Hello Again and her solo concert, “Diamonds Are Forever: Songs of Dame Shirley Bassey” directed by Richard Jay-Alexander won two BroadwayWorld awards (seven nominations). Films include the Martin Scorsese produced/Alison Anders directed “Grace of my Heart,” Sean Penn’s “The Crossing Guard,” Garry Marshall’s “Valentines Day,” “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” Larry David’s “Sour Grapes.” TV: “Pretty Little Liars,” “Lipstick jungle,” “ER,” “Scrubs.” She is a Dartmouth College graduate and AEA/SAG-AFTRA member.

* Appearing through an Agreement between this theatre, and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Actors’ Equity Association (“Equity”), founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 actors and stage managers, Equity fosters the art of live theatre as an essential component of society and advances the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans. Actors’ Equity is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an International organization of performing arts unions.

What happens if it rains?

A little rain certainly won’t stop us, but should weather conditions look serious enough to cancel or abruptly discontinue a performance, ticket-holders will be able to exchange their tickets for another performance. If a call to cancel a performance is made prior to the show starting we will make the announcement on our facebook page.  If you have any questions you can call the Box Office at 727.823.7529 or email

Will there be food & drink available for purchase?

Need something to eat, stop by the concessions or drinkery. We will have charcuterie boards (vegan options available), snacks, popcorn with a commemorative Ragtime bucket for purchase. As well as a selection of beers and wines from local vendors.

Where can I park?

Demens Landing Park is located on the waterfront right in the heart of Downtown St. Pete. Below are the two closest parking options: Southcore Garage 101 1st Avenue South St Petersburg, FL 33701. Al Lang parking Lot # 1 230 1st Street South St Petersburg, FL 33701. For more downtown St. Pete parking visit DiscoverDowntown.

Can I bring a chair?

Chairs with no legs will be allowed in the Premium or General Blanket area. All other chairs will be sat in the General Chair section.

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January 23, 2022 at 1pm

Take a peek behind the curtain before the opening of each production with a presentation by American Stage staff. They provide insight into the history and central themes of the play, as well as a discussion with members of the creative team who provide an insider’s perspective on their process.

Pricing: $10 for General Public.
Free for American Stage Subscribers and Act 1 Club Members

Beyond The Footlights

February 6, 10, 17, 24 (30 minutes prior to select performances)

Before experiencing the performance, join Producing Artistic Director, Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, for a conversation exploring and reflecting on the themes, connections, and ideas that ignite us. Guest panelists include relevant voices from the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay community and beyond.

Free for performance ticket holders.

Before the Show

Fridays, Saturday Matinees and Sundays (30 minutes prior to select performances)

February 5, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27

Arrive early to explore fascinating details about the play and the artists who brought it to life in this brief pre-show presentation. Learn what to look for as you head into the theatre to experience the world of the play.

Free for performance ticket holders.

Let’s Go to ‘School’ at American Stage

February 14, 2022

There’s a scene in American Stage’s production of “School Girls: Or, The African Mean Girls Play” in which every cast member participates, one way or another, in the performance of a Whitney Houston classic. The scene is too crucial to spoil here, but what I will say is that it’s an encapsulation of all the strange and potentially incongruous elements of the 2018 script by Jocelyn Bioh.

School Girls or the African Means Girls Play at American Stage in St. Pete

February 7, 2022

Picture it. 1986. An all girls school in Ghana and there’s a new girl in town, an American, who challenges the reigning queen bee. There’s a prestigious pageant on the line, which could provide the opportunity to move up in the world to the lucky winner.

BWW Previews: Stage And Screen Icons Phyllis Yvonne Stickney And Jennifer Leigh Warren In SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY At American Stage

February 3, 2022

At American Stage now through February 27 is SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY by Jocelyn Bioh. SCHOOL GIRLS is loosely based on a true story that tells the tale of an all-girls school in Ghana and a prestigious Miss Global Universe pageant.

Meet Jennifer Leigh Warren of American Stage’s ‘African Mean Girls Play’

January 26, 2022

It’s 1986 in the West African country of Ghana, and the girls at the Aburi boarding school are abuzz about the upcoming Miss Ghana pageant.

How long is the trail?

The trail is just under a mile. The trail is not paved but is wheelchair accessible; expect bumps in the path.

How long is the show?

Each adventure will last for approximately 60–70 minutes.

Dos and Don'ts

Do bring bug spray, a reusable water bottle, extra layers (a jacket will do!), a poncho, comfortable walking shoes, and a headlamp with a red light setting (if you don’t have one, we will provide it).

Don’t smoke or vape on the trial, feed wildlife, or bring your own flashlight.

Can I bring food and drinks?

Boyd Hill is a nature preserve; we are not allowed to bring food or drinks on the trail. There will also be no concessions for sale.

Can I bring my pet?

Although pets are normally allowed on the trail, in this event, we ask that you leave the furry friend at home.

Where are the restrooms?

Patrons can find restrooms at the park next door to Boyd Hill, which is still located within the parking lot.  

Where should I park?

The parking lot and trail entrance are located at 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg, FL 33705. As you walk toward the visitor center, there will be a gate to your right with American Stage signage and staff. You will enter through this gate.

Will I see snakes, alligators, and other live animals?

Since the performance is at the nature preserve, it is possible to see animals in their natural habitat. But there will be staff with you at all times.

GEt YOur TIckets Now

or call American Stage’s Box Office
at 727-823-PLAY (7529)