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Triple Threat: Jennifer Simard Joins the Cast of ‘Mean Girls’

Category Broadway

|by Matthew Wexler |

"The best comedy always has a push/pull to it. The pathos always has to be there."

Jennifer Simard is having a banner year. This past spring she concluded her belly laugh-inducing performance as Ernestina in the hit revival of Hello, Dolly! to concentrate on developing her one-woman show, Stigma. Her New York City solo debut quickly sold out, with fans eagerly anticipating the opportunity to see another side of the multi-faceted actress. Widely known for her comedy chops (Mean Girls will mark her sixth Broadway show, including a Tony-nominated performance in Disaster!), Stigma offered the opportunity to conceive and develop a work that draws from her personal experiences, as well as a musical catalog that includes rock ‘n’ roll and pop hits.

Fresh off a run in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ and her solo show ‘Stigma,’ Jennifer Simard will join the cast of ‘Mean Girls’ (Photo: Courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown)

Fresh off a run in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ and her solo show ‘Stigma,’ Jennifer Simard will join the cast of ‘Mean Girls’ (Photo: Courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown)

“I’m a funny gal, but like most people, I have many facets and (am) more interested in going to the bottom of the pool,” said Ms. Simard in a recent interview with The Broadway Blog. “While the patter is funny, the songs are exciting and there’s a real arc, with stories about myself that I hope people can take with them and relate to their own lives.”

But when it rains it pours, especially in show business. No sooner had Ms. Simard buckled into the hefty task of creating and producing her own show than an opportunity to return to Broadway presented itself.

Ms. Simard is no stranger to Mean Girls, though. Tina Fey had seen the actress in Disaster! and was enamored with her performance. It was the week of the 2016 Tony Awards and she was asked to do a table read of Act 1 of the developing show. A confluence of good fortune then unfolded: she was cast in Hello, Dolly! while Mean Girls was simultaneously fast-tracked into production. Ms. Simard by that time was committed to Hello, Dolly! and the role went to her Disaster! co-star Kerry Butler.

“I’m so glad they hired Kerry Butler to originate the role – she’s perfect in it, and that’s the sweetest part for me – taking over for a friend that I did Disaster! with and who I’ve known for years,” says Ms. Simard.  The replacement opportunity came about this summer, and the actress once again met with the creative team. “They offered me the job, so here I am rejoining my friends and I’m really delighted.”

Mean Girls has quickly become a fan favorite, with its energizing pop score by Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin, book by Tina Fey, and direction/choreography by Casey Nicholaw (Aladdin, Book of Mormon). Cady Heron has grown up on the African savannah, but life in high school is proving more challenging than living in the bush. The Plastics reign supreme but her besties Janis and Damian (played by Tony-nominated Grey Henson) do their best to keep her on track.

The adults in Mean Girls have their hands full with teen angst, as does Ms. Simard, who has the joyous challenge of portraying not one, but three characters in Cady’s life: her earthy mother, math teacher Ms. Norbury, and her nemesis’s mom, the dog-toting Mrs. George. Specificity is key to pulling in the audience and creating three unique characters.

“Some things require really broad strokes, but even with those broad strokes you have to, underneath it, think you’re using the finest tip paint brush. It has to come, in my opinion, from the inside out,” says Ms. Simard. “So even if you’re seeing something outside that looks really broad, it’s always best if it comes from a kernel of truth. The best comedy always has a push/pull to it. The pathos always has to be there. That’s the most exciting thing to watch…and the most interesting.”

Jennifer Simard joins the cast of Mean Girls beginning September 11. For more of the best of Broadway, check out our list of Top Shows in September 2018

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