BWW Exclusive: Four Original MEAN GIRLS Cast Members Say Goodbye to North Shore High
North Shore High School is getting ready to welcome a new class of students! As BroadwayWorld previously reported, four original company members of Mean Girls depart the production: Grey Henson (Damian), Kate Rockwell (Karen), and Barrett Wilbert Weed (Janis), who play their final performances tomorrow, March 8, and Erika Henningsen (Cady), who played her final performance on February 22. What made their experience in the hit musical totally fetch? BroadwayWorld checked in with all four as they were preparing for their final bows.
"[I'm going to miss] the incredible rush and pleasure of hearing people laugh every day," says Rockwell. "Making an audience laugh is addictive and also so powerful- for at least that one second, they've left their real lives and bought into our little world."
What will Henson miss most? "Meeting all the mini-Damians at the stage door who light up when they tell me that Damian is their new dream role," he explains. "Also it's just such a fun role. Damian is so playful, warm, and confident. To originate a character like that in this day and age, and to be Tony nominated for that performance - a dream."
"I've learned so much about myself playing [Janis] and being part of this show," says Weed. "Who I was before Janis and who I am now are two completely different people. Janis has been like a dear friend who has helped me practice unconditional positive self-regard every day. I am extremely lucky to have played such a strong girl for such a long time. I only ever want to play roles that help women feel like they have agency and Janis fulfills that duty in such a powerful way. I'm so glad she's been such a helpful character to so many people."
All four cast members have plenty of happy memories from their Mean Girls experience. "[I loved] Tony night. If you remember, we lost. A lot," says Rockwell. "But while we of course were disappointed that things didn't go differently for us, our company never faltered or turned negative. We celebrated the value of the show we created with or without any external validation. We celebrated each other and ourselves and all the hours of work we had put in together. And that group of people REALLY knew how to celebrate!"
"I will never forget our cast album listening party," says Henningsen. "We walked over to the recording studio after a Sunday evening show and listened to the whole thing from start to finish; our whole cast, creatives, etc. It was amazing; and Tina Fey's dance moves cannot be beat. I grew up listening to OBC recordings every car ride and to sit there, with my Mean Girls family and hear OURS... it was a truly dream come true moment."
Weed fondly recalls her performance of "I'd Rather be Me" on the Tonight Show. "Having Tina there and being caught on tape nearly having a meltdown when Jimmy Fallon hugged me... it's a pretty cool moment. And I'm really glad it was filmed. My favorite moment of that whole day was when my friends (Jared, Katie, Sahar, Corey) ran into my dressing room, jumped all over me, and then immediately ate all my sandwiches after the taping. There's something really sweet and heartwarming about having people in my life who will always stop to eat the free food no matter where we are or what major life event is happening."
All four agree that it is the people they will miss the most. [I'm going to miss] my family at the August Wilson," says Henningsen. "They are the greatest people."
Rockwell explains: "We built the most wonderful family with this company! The August Wilson is my second home- I mean I've spent way more time in it than my actual home in the last two years! And the people who work alongside me, on and backstage, have kept me going for all that time. They have been my support and my joy, my teammates and shoulders to cry on. I will miss seeing them every single day."
"[Being in Mean Girls] was like going away to college all over again. The cast is so young and energetic. Our dressing rooms were like dorm rooms," says Henson. "Mean Girls gave me my MFA."
Mean Girls features a book by nine-time Emmy Award winner Tina Fey, based on her screenplay for the film, music by three-time Emmy Award winner Jeff Richmond, and lyrics by two-time Tony Award nominee Nell Benjamin. Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw directs and choreographs.
Cady Heron may have grown up on an African savanna, but nothing prepared her for the wild and vicious ways of her strange new home: suburban Illinois. How will this naïve newbie rise to the top of the popularity pecking order? By taking on The Plastics, a trio of lionized frenemies led by the charming but ruthless Regina George. But when Cady devises a plan to end Regina's reign, she learns the hard way that you can't cross a Queen Bee without getting stung.
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