We talked to the Broadway actress, singer, and dancer about how she prepared physically and mentally to play the iconic Queen Bee of the Plastics.

By Kylie Gilbert
Photo: Joan Marcus

Mean Girls officially opened on Broadway earlier this month-and it's already one of the most talked about shows of the year. The Tina Fey–written musical brings the 2004 movie you know and love to the present day (read: social media bullying and 2018-relevant Trump jokes) but stays true to the essence of the movie's beloved characters. In other words, the Broadway version of Regina George, played by Taylor Louderman, is just as ruthless and conniving as the Rachel McAdams original.

We chatted with the veteran Broadway actress-who has starred in Kinky Boots and Bring It On-about how she prepared for the physically rigorous job of singing, dancing, and acting in eight shows a week, plus how she navigated the challenges of playing the iconic image-obsessed character. Here's what we learned.

She had to navigate body expectations to play Regina George.

"When I was in Kinky Boots, nobody really cared what shape I was in and so I remember like fans would send me cookies to the theater and I would be like, 'Okay I guess I'll have another cookie!' Now, playing such an iconic role and kind of the 'it girl,' it was more important that I be in shape. You know, in the show there are lyrics that refer to 'hot bod' and 'she never weighs more than 115'-which, I'm not afraid to say I do weigh more than 115!-but I've just been much more conscious of how I look and what that means for my character. So I've been taking really good care of myself, and make going to the gym a priority. Some days I can't make it to the gym, so I try to be more aware of what I'm eating."

She did Whole30 to prepare for the show.

"Type 1 diabetes runs in both sides of my family. My little sister was diagnosed and it's tough to watch her give herself shots day in and day out-that's really what inspired me to be a healthier, more conscious eater. But the Whole30 Diet has made a huge difference for me with my sweet tooth. The best part was it taught me that I can still be satisfied without having a ton of sugar in my diet. Now I have go-to recipes I would've never tried before-I'll even make my own Whole30 mayonnaise and beet ketchup. I did Whole30 [again] during the month of January to 'reset' before the show. It's obviously not great for your social life, though. You can't go out and drink or you know enjoy a birthday cake or whatever. Lately, I've been just trying to find a balance. Like having Halo Top instead of regular ice cream! My Halo Top has been a really good pal." (Related: Why Finding Balance Is the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Health and Fitness Routine)

Sleep and self-care are two of the most important things for surviving eight shows a week.

"The most important thing is sleep. My mom can survive on four hours of sleep, I cannot. I need a solid eight. And so I've been really good to myself about getting enough sleep. I also have to remember to give myself a rest or not stress myself out too much during the day to save a lot of my energy for the evening-for most people, it's not normal to operate that way! And then I drink so much water. One of the cool things about doing the show is we have dressers that help us carry our water bottles so that we're always hydrated. Especially with singing it's key for the vocal cords to always have water on hand."

She uses this workout trick to boost her stamina for performing.

"I played a lot of sports when I was younger and I did run cross country. These days, I max out at about 3 miles, but there's something that feels so empowering about sweating it out while listening to some of my favorite female hero songs. It's also really important for keeping my stamina up for performance. Singing and dancing at the same time is the hardest part because both require you to use your core. With Mean Girls, I don't dance as much as some of the others in the show, but for my first show, Bring It On, I started running on the treadmill while belting out songs to train for that. I still sing on the treadmill now-it's a great way to prepare because you can't be out of breath during the show while you're singing. You've just gotta make sure there's no one else in the gym!" (Related: The Rockettes Share What Goes Into Each Show)

Photo: Joan Marcus

Dance cardio classes are hard for her, too.

"Performing in so many shows each week, I feel like my body gets used to it after a while. I could coast on the show for a second, but then your body adjusts-so I try to shake it up with my workout routine. My new favorite class is Bari-I love their trampoline and dance class. My girlfriend who's in the show with me teaches there and brought me along for the first time, and now I try to go a couple times a week. It's a different workout every class, and because I'm thinking about keeping up with choreography, I forget that this is really hard and so that makes it go by fast and it's fun. [Even though I'm on Broadway], you'd be surprised at how difficult it is for me! [Ed note: Research shows it's just as effective a cardio workout as running!] There are people who go every week and start memorizing the choreography and then you go, 'oh my gosh, I don't really know it as well as these people!'"

She strength-trains in her dressing room.

"In addition to boutique classes and running, I also have a girlfriend from back home who has been my personal trainer from afar and helped me come up with a workout plan to start incorporating weight training. She taught me a lot of moves that now I do on my own a few days a week to build my strength. I keep 10-pound dumbbells in my dressing room. It's nice to do before a show to get your muscles to wake up."

Massage is the recovery tool she can't live without.

"Shows now are offering physical therapy to help us recover and for prevention-it's almost like a massage. So when my muscles get tight, I'll go to a 20-minute session at the theater between shows or before a show. Even as singers, we can still be really tight in our back, jaw area, whatnot. So that's been a lifesaver and a game-changer for us." (Related: The Best Workout Recovery Method for Your Schedule)

She didn't always have Regina George's self-confidence.

"There's a lot of pressure playing Regina George! I remember squealing when I got the part and then also simultaneously shaking like, oh my gosh can I do this? You know I go through spells of low confidence-and Regina has tons of it. Rachel McAdams did an amazing job with this character, but on stage, it's a different medium of storytelling, so I've had to work it out on my own, with the help of Tina Fey and Casey Nicholaw our director. It's challenging me and pushing me in a lot of ways that I'm so grateful for."


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