What: Mean Girls Panel at BroadwayCon 2019 / Moderated by Damien Holbroke / Feat: Casey Nicholaw (Director and Choreographer), Nell Benjamin (Lyrics), Jeff Richmond (Music), Tina Fey (Book), Erika Henningsen (Cady Heron), Taylor Louderman (Regina George), Ashley Park (Gretchen Weiners), Kate Rockwell (Karen Smith), Grey Hensen (Damian)
Their hair’s so big because it’s full of secrets! At BroadwayCon, the cast of Mean Girls dished on their best-kept backstage secrets from the show. From celebrity guests left them with pornographic images on the set to the final song that might have been, they spilled all the (calorie-free) tea. Here’s their six top secrets… that aren’t secrets anymore.
1. If Taylor Louderman is even a little bit sick, she skips the show.
Asked by Holbroke how she hits such crazy notes night after night, Louderman admitted that she doesn’t take any chances. “Well, I will say if I even am a little bit under the weather, I can’t do the show,” she revealed. “It is the very extreme of my vocal abilities. But I would say that this is something that I, since I was a little girl, have been working towards. I remember listening to Sherie Rene Scott, and how, she could just wail and that’s something I always wanted to do.” The Mean Girls star added, “Focusing on the technique is what helps me be able to do it every day, but there are definitely days where I’m scared…I think it’s very mental and I think I wouldn’t be able to do it outside of the show so easily, but now that it’s in my body, I can.”
2. Yes, Nell Benjamin is trying to make a statement about slutty Halloween costumes.
Discussing the inspiration for her song, “Sexy,” lyricist Nell Benjamin revealed that she does think there’s some irony in sexy costumes that allegedly signal female empowerment. “The fun part was that the underlying joke of going to Halloween stores for many years and seeing sexy things that shouldn’t be sexy and then also this sense that like, a lot of times women are like ‘Own your sexuality by dressing slutty’ and you’re like, ‘Okay a little disconnect there, thanks.’ And so we just wanted to point that out and do something fun that wasn’t lecturing about it.” So she’s not lecturing, but you know, she has thoughts.
3. During a recent performance, the Burn Book feel into the orchestra pit.
For full disclosure it may not have fallen. Louderman said it fell. Kate Rockwell insisted it was thrown. And Ashley Park said it was “shoved.” In any case, it ended up there. “I never realized how close the conductor is,” Park admitted. “It fell into the net I guess.” Rockwell said she made eye contact with Alex Gemignani, the conductor, who it seems may have help bounce the book back onto the stage. “And then I think I was like, ‘Regina, your butler is so nice,’” Park laughed. That’s live theater, people.
4. The curtain call was almost a giant mashup of songs you wished were in the show.
Nell Benjamin noted that throughout the creative process people kept offering up suggestions. “They’d be like, ‘You didn’t have a fetch song?’ and we’re like, ‘No, we’re not having a fetch song because that’s funny for one word and then there’s a whole two-minute song that follows.’” Jeff Richmond added, “There was a minute that we entertained this idea that the curtain call was going to be just a series of four or five-line songs that you wish were in the show.” Benjamin chimed in, “Yeah, just a mega-mix of the songs people told us to do.” It could still happen, people!
5. Erika Henningsen accidentally dressed as a sperm for part of a performance.
Henningsen has had her share of mid-show wardrobe malfunctions, most recently when her change from the Halloween costume to her next outfit went haywire, leaving her on stage in only a bra and a wig cap. “I was just standing in this wig cap, which makes you literally look like a sperm, and I didn’t know what had happened.” Meanwhile, Ashley Park tried to locate the missing wig on the stage, but to no avail. They ended up dropping the curtain to fix the mistake – but you gotta give Park props for trying to help a girl out!
6. Neil deGrasse Tyson totally read the cast poetry backstage.
Asked her favorite celebrity guest, Erika Henningsen didn’t miss a beat. “Neil deGrasse Tyson because A) he gets a shout out in the show and B) He was the celebrity who was the most exactly what you would want him to be like. He sat us down and read us a poem. He talked to us about how we were young and life was ahead of us, and we need to like seize it. I think Neil deGrasse Tyson came to the show to give us his one man show.”
7. NPH DREW A PENIS ON THE WALL.
A close second, however, was Neil Patrick Harris, who left a very special memento for Louderman. “Neil Patrick Harris drew a penis [on the bathroom stall set piece], right in front of where I sit, in the bathroom stall,” Louderman revealed. Rockwell added, “And also his husband’s phone number, which we had to blackout because it was his actual phone number.”