St. Louis Proud: Local actress hits Broadway as lead in 'Mean Gi - KMOV.com

St. Louis Proud: Local actress hits Broadway as lead in 'Mean Girls'

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St. Louis-area native Taylor Louderman plays Regina George (center) in the Broadway musical Mean Girls. St. Louis-area native Taylor Louderman plays Regina George (center) in the Broadway musical Mean Girls.

BOURBON, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- In April, the new musical Mean Girls will officially open on Broadway, and a star from the St. Louis-area will take center stage.

Taylor Louderman plays queen bee Regina George.

“She [Regina] rules the school, and takes advantage, and manipulates people. I try not to do that in real life but I’m not going to lie and say it’s not fun to play the baddy every once in a while on stage,” Louderman said with a laugh when she recently sat down with News 4 in her hometown of Bourbon, Missouri.

Louderman is in final rehearsals for Mean Girls, a hilarious new musical from director Casey Nicholaw (“Aladdin,” “The Book of Mormon”), composer Jeff Richmond (“30 Rock,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), lyricist Nell Benjamin (“Legally Blonde”) and book writer Tina Fey (“30 Rock,” Bossypants). It officially opens on April 8.

“It’s so exciting. Every day you are in this new show that’s iconic because of the movie. It’s thrilling. Not to mention, Tina Fey is always around,” said Louderman.

Before the big names and bright lights of Broadway, she was just a small town girl.

“Here’s my token line: ‘I’m from Bourbon, Missouri where the cattle population exceeds the human population,’” Louderman said.

Her parents and four younger sisters still call Bourbon home.

“I’m her biggest fan, and probably her worst critic,” admits her mom, Suzanne Louderman. “She has been singing since I can remember.”

It wasn’t far from Bourbon where Louderman’s acting career started in grade school, with the role of Annie at Ozark Actors Theater in Rolla.

“We dyed her hair red that summer,” said Mrs. Louderman.

Then, the family started burning up Interstate 44 for auditions at the Muny in Forest Park.

“She auditioned three times before she actually made it into the Muny,” said Mrs. Louderman. “That was always an experience. I’m a mother from Bourbon, Missouri and I was overwhelmed going to this experience at SLU High School, knowing no one. I remember Kurt Warner’s wife was there and their daughter was auditioning and I remember thinking ‘Ah, there is no chance she [Taylor] is going to get in. We’re from Bourbon. We don’t know anyone.’”

But, eventually she did, starring in shows like Hairspray, Grease, and Legally Blonde.

“The Muny, as a teen and as a kid, yes you have the opportunity to be in the background of the show, but the most valuable part is getting to watch the Broadway stars come in and work. You are there with them every day at rehearsal. You watch them. You may be sitting on the side. But you watch them work. How they treat others. How they handle their script. How they interact with the director. All those things are invaluable, I think,” said Louderman.

Louderman has perfected her craft over the years not sitting and waiting for opportunities, but by finding them.

“For example, STAGES St. Louis, they have a teen troupe. And then opportunities to go do musicals at the all-boys schools because they need girls, like SLU [high school] and CBC.”

As the oldest of five girls, the entire family had to be on board to support her dreams.

“We did a lot of driving. Her sisters were very patient,” said Mrs. Louderman.

Louderman gave up plenty, too.

“She’s missed homecomings because she chose to do shows. She missed the fair in Sullivan because she was in a show. One time she went to fair with curlers in her hair,” said Mrs. Louderman. “She’s always been very assertive and proactive about her own career and what she wanted to do. I don’t feel like I ever really had to push her. That was always something she wanted to do.”

Louderman graduated from Sullivan High School and went on to the University of Michigan. During her sophomore year there, she hit it big, landing the role of Campbell in Bring It On: The Musical.

Turns out, someone she met years ago at the Muny had a big role in this career break-through years later.

“I can’t speak highly enough for Mike Isaacson,” said Louderman. Mike is currently the Muny’s Artistic Director & Executive Producer. “Mike was one of the lead producers on Bring It On and he was taking over the Muny from Paul Blake at the time. I was in Legally Blonde at the Muny at the time. And I remember getting the call to step into his office. And getting the call ‘Hey you got the part’ and all I could think in my head is ‘Oh my gosh, I’m not going back to school,’ just in tears. As a college student you can’t even fathom what that means. That was a really big turning point for me and Mike really took care of me and knew how fragile a young person is in their college years to then take on a huge Broadway show and then have to lead it. I don’t think I could have done it without him.”

During the musical’s national tour, it made a stop of the Fox Theater in St. Louis. While in town, the cast came together in support of Louderman’s younger sister, Madison, who was newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. They performed at the Sheldon Concert Hall and helped raise $17,000 for the local JDRF organization.

After touring, the musical landed on Broadway.

“My ultimate goal before going to college was to star in an original Broadway show. Oops. I did it. Which is great! But it did kind of leave me going what do I do now?”

Louderman recognizes it truly is an incredible feat, especially for a young woman who grew up in Bourbon.

“I do think growing up in a small town you can fall into the trap of lower expectations. So I am proud to at least walk in a different path that shows other young people that doesn’t have to be the way it is,” said Louderman.

Taylor continued on Broadway starring in Kinkyboots, played Wendy in “Peter Pan Live” on NBC, and now voices the character Blaire in the Nick Jr. show “Sunny Day”.

“I’ve had my lulls too. Because there are so many people who want to work as an actor, there are too many of us. I’ve had months at a time where I don’t have any work so I teach. I teach young people. Or come home and cry it out,” said Louderman.

But now she is in what could be her biggest role yet, Regina George in Mean Girls.

“I love the creative process. I’m at a point in my career where I can say, ‘Hey, explain to me why, what if we did this, or can we try this?’ and they listen, which is really cool,” said Louderman.

She gets to do that with comedy icon Tina Fey.

“I try to spy on her a lot to pick up things I can learn. I think she’s a genius,” said Louderman. “But she’s very quiet. Her husband, Jeff Richmond who is writing our music, he’s also always around and it’s funny because you would expect her to be the goofy one but it’s him. He’s the goofy one. She’s really quiet and reserved actually.”

Behind the jokes, Taylor has found real life lessons, too.

“I think what the show teaches us and what I’ve learned, really, as cheesy as it sounds, we need to coexist. And people can be different. And that’s the beautiful thing,” said Louderman.

You’ll often find her parents, sisters, grandparents, and a number of family and friends in the audience.

“I’m not so nervous initially but whenever I know she has a difficult song that she has to hit the high note, I think, ‘Ok, just hit the note, hit the note!’  But her dad, Roger, is far more nervous than I am,” said Mrs. Louderman, noting Taylor’s siblings have also enjoyed the perks of having a sister on Broadway. “They too get to partake in the joys and the highs of her career.”

Louderman isn’t ruling out returning home for good one day.

“The Muny has this magic. The Cardinals have this magic. And you can’t have all that without Ted Drewes afterwards. I also love when I come home that Panera is St. Louis Bread Company.”

But, she says, she wants to embrace wherever her career takes her. And for now, that’s another run on Broadway.

“To be in a show that you feel like is a success, is so rewarding,” said Louderman.

Mean Girls makes its official Broadway debut on April 8 at the August Wilson Theater. You can follow Louderman on social media, including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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