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Broadway Actors Present Workshop at Amity

July 4, 2024
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A man and a woman sitting in chairs talking to each other
Broadway actors Erika Henningsen and Kyle Selig offered a workshop for students in Amity's Performing Arts program

Amity performing arts students had the chance to rub shoulders with a bit of Broadway glamor recently, when Erika Henningsen and Kyle Selig – both actors from the original cast of Mean Girls the Musical - visited the school to present a workshop in the school’s Black Box Theater.  Students were eager to perform songs from the musical and get some tips from the actors.  Mean Girls will be the spring musical at Amity come April 2024.

Both Henningsen and Selig seemed to enjoy the students’ performances.  Their comments put the songs into context, pointing out the moments the characters pivot or realize something about themselves.  “There is an epiphany in this song,” Selig said to a rendition of ‘I’d Rather Be Me.’  This is your Declaration of Independence.”  In another scene he encouraged the student to address a particular student directly with their song.  “Try to get that person to walk to you,” he recommended.

In “What’s Wrong with Me,” Erika Henningsen pointed to all the questions in the lyrics expressing self-doubt – until later in the story the character launches into her newfound freedom in “Fearless.”  Every song is a scene with beginning, middle and end, she said.  Songs are part of the story.

Samantha Gallagher performs a song from Mean Girls

The music for Mean Girls was written by Jeff Richmond, with lyrics by Nell Benjamin, based on a book by Tina Fey.  The musical premiered at the National Theatre, Washington, D.C., in 2017 and opened on Broadway in April 2018 at the August Wilson Theatre.  A film is set to open in early 2024.  It’s a coming-of-age story, with a young girl, Cady, who moves to a suburban high school from Kenya.

Mean Girls The Musical will be on stage at Amity April 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13.

Following the workshop, students had a chance to ask questions.  Stage fright?  It never goes away, both actors agreed.  But, be as prepared as possible, they recommended, and over time it gets better.

Should they watch the movie which is about to be released?  Selig said he watched the first movie once, then never again (“They don’t sing!”).  And Erika agreed.  “I can’t be Lindsay Lohan,” she said.  I just went in and did my own thing.”

One question was whether it’s better to study musical theater at a college or to go straight into acting.  For Henningsen, who studied at the University of Michigan, there are many schools where you can get good training.  Ask yourself where you are going to be happy, she recommended.  At school, people can make mistakes and still succeed in a safe environment, she said, adding that might not be the case in a professional setting.  Selig added, “you need to be an active participant in your education.”

The event was sponsored by the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation.

This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Woodbridge Town News.

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