On Wednesdays we… talk to Cheech Manohar! The Syracuse Drama alum stars as math whiz Kevin Gnapoor in the hit musical Mean Girls. Holding his own opposite female powerhouses Erika Henningsen (Cady Heron), Taylor Louderman (Regina George), Ashley Park (Gretchen Wieners), and Kate Rockwell (Karen Smith) is no small feat. Add to that the pressure of stepping into a role previously made famous by someone else and it’s a wonder he didn’t end up stuffing his face with cheese fries in a food court instead.
But Manohar wasn’t intimidated by the established cult following of Tina Fey’s film – or by the task of making Kevin G. his own. “The musical is such a completely different beast from the movie,” Manohar told Broadway Spin. “And Rajiv [Surendra] is already so terrific in the role as it is, it would be pretty difficult to do Kevin G. exactly as he did it.” Instead, Manohar reported that their creative team focused on helping him “find the essence of the character and heighten that for the stage.”
It wasn’t a stretch for Manohar to channel his inner Kevin G., however. It turns out the triple-threat was actually a mathlete IRL back in high school. “I loved AP Calculus!” he declared. “In fact, I was going to become an SAT tutor as a side hustle before I got this job.” In true mathlete spirit, he revealed that his daily ritual is also numbers-driven. “We all got Mean Girls robes on our first day in the theater. I add a digit of pi to the back of it after every show we do.” Mathletes everywhere rejoice.
And rejoice they do. Asked what has surprised him most about being a part of this show, Manohar cited the reactions from the fans. “I had no idea there would be so much mathlete love out there when I started this process,” he shared. “Especially now that we’re releasing MathLIT raps on Instagram – people are really responding to our squad.” But Manohar’s squad extends beyond those who share his love of AP Calc.
When we made him name his BFF in the cast, he said, “I especially love the swings and standbys in our cast. They are some of the most hardworking people in our cast, and on top of that they are sweet and funny. They truly do not get enough credit for what they do. Every day after “Whose House” I go up to their dressing room and hang out until my next entrance. They are my HOMIES.”