‘Teen Royalty’: Lead actress chats Broadway’s ‘Mean Girls’ before Costa Mesa run

Pictured (L - R): English Bernhardt (Cady Heron), Jasmine Rogers (Gretchen Wieners), Nadina Hassan (Regina George), and Morgan Ashley Bryant (Karen Smith) Credit: 2022 Jenny Anderson

Time to pull out the pink attire, Costa Mesa. Every clique — including the infamous Plastics — are coming to Orange County in the superhit film-turned-Broadway musical “Mean Girls.”

The heartfelt comedic touring production will have a two-week run at Segerstrom Center for the Arts on March 7-19. Adapted from the hit 2004 movie, “Mean Girls” was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and 10 Drama Desk Awards. 

Direct from Broadway, the musical that expresses the extreme challenges one faces to “fit in” has a powerhouse creative team that includes its screenplay writer Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), Jeff Richmond (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Nell Benjamin (“Legally Blonde”), and Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon”). 

Starring as the new kid in school Cady Heron, actress English Bernhardt is thrilled to lead the musical in Orange County. 

What inspired you to pursue Broadway? 

I grew up in a very musical house – there was always music playing, everyone in my family loves to sing and my dad and brother play the piano, so I was always surrounded by it. Then growing up, I started taking ballet and various dance classes and my parents decided to throw me in a musical theatre class at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory. Once I was singing and dancing at the same time and performed in my first musical (the Music Man), I was bit by the bug and have been hooked ever since.

What does it mean to you to perform as the lead role Cady Heron? 

It’s very much a dream and an honor to play Cady Heron. To get to lead this fantastic show and company is something I will never take for granted. Having watched the phenomenal actresses who have played the role before me, to now getting to find my own version is really so special. Cady is a character full of heart and hope and adventure and it’s a privilege to get to walk in her socks and sandals every night! 

How do you approach portraying a character that has already been established in popular culture?

I think there is something to be said for honoring the brilliance of the role that Lindsay Lohan created and so many fans adore, so I still try to tap into those moments we all love and resonate with in Cady from the movie, while also bringing myself and my own high school experiences to make it that much more personal.

I saw that you have also performed in the role of Regina George — do you feel like you are more of a Cady or a Regina?

Oh gosh, I want to say overall I’m much more of a Cady but we all have our Regina moments…especially in the mornings before my coffee kicks in! 

What makes this Broadway production unique in comparison to the film? 

Our show really brings this story to life by incorporating musical numbers that give the characters more depth and backstory. The production features a fantastic ensemble that really electrifies each number and we have an LED/video wall that really captures our culture today with social media and all that it brings – both good and bad. I think the writers and creative team did a fantastic job of maintaining the story at heart, incorporating all of the iconic one-liners from the movie, but also adding songs and dancing that will transport you back to your own high school days and leave you humming all the way. 

Are there any other Broadway productions that you would love to be a part of in the future?

Absolutely! I would love to be in Hadestown, Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked…to name a few! 

‘Mean Girls’

March 7 – 19, 2023
Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

For more info: scfta.org


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