Interview with Mean Girls star Kate Rockwell

Kate Rockwell

Following on from our interviews with Taylor Louderman and Ashley Park, we'd like to introduce you to the third and final member of 'The Plastics'... Kate Rockwell! Starring as the loveable but dim Karen Smith in the much-loved Broadway premiere of Mean Girls at the August Wilson Theatre, Ms. Rockwell is on a career high, even earning her first Drama Desk Award nomination.

She made her Broadway debut assuming the role of Margot in Legally Blonde in 2008 and has since appeared in both the Broadway and National Tour productions of Hair and Bring It On The Musical and as Sherrie in Broadway's Rock of Ages. Yes, the young actress is forging quite the prolific stage career for herself.

We recently caught up with Kate to discuss backstage cliques, the advantages of being not so bright and the fabulous entrance of 'The Plastics'...

Kate Rockwell in Interview
(Photo by Austin Yang)

So, Mean Girls has been playing constantly to full houses since it opened on the Great White Way. I guess that comes as no surprise to you though?

That it’s doing so well? (Laughs) I trust Tina Fey. I trust that anything Tina Fey believes in, I should believe in it too. So, I believed in it from day one!

I love the number “Where Do You Belong?” where the various cliques are introduced! Is it anything like that backstage at the August Wilson Theatre? Which group do you belong to?

(Laughs) You know what, actually, no! It’s crazy because it’s a show about cliques, but we really don’t have any! This is the first company I’ve worked with where we say: “It’s like a family” but actually, it is. We’re all very, very close and there’s really not a lot of group separation. There’s a lot of principal and ensemble integration. Who are the nerds? Who are the cool kids? It doesn’t matter! We all spend equal amounts of time with each other, which is very special and not the way it usually is.

Well, I’m glad to hear there’s no method acting going on backstage in that respect then!

(Laughs) Absolutely not! It’s the exact opposite.

Erika Henningsen, Ashley Park, Taylor Louderman & Kate Rockwell in Mean Girls
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

Why do you think audiences are finding your character, Karen Smith, so endearing?

I think it’s very refreshing to see someone who is not apologising for who they are. She knows she’s not very bright. She’s not sad about not being very bright. She’s really OK with it. I think it’s really refreshing to say: “Yeah, I have flaws but that’s OK. I’m fine the way I am. I have other nice qualities.”

Well, they always say “Ignorance is Bliss” and it could be argued that the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to suffer from depression…

I do think there can be a correlation between not taking on all of the world’s problems and feeling unburdened, yes. I do feel that way. I certainly wouldn’t say that all smart people are unhappy and all dumb people are happy, but I can imagine that there would be a relief in not feeling that you had to be responsible for everything that’s going on in the world.

Ashley Park, Taylor Louderman, Kate Rockwell & Erika Henningsen in Mean Girls
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

There’s also been a huge reaction to the entrance for ‘The Plastics’. What’s going through your head at that point of the show?

It’s definitely an intimidating way to make an entrance because everything around you is so perfect, so if it’s wrong and it’s on you, you’ve ruined stage perfection! (Laughs) That moment is musical perfection! It’s helpful though because I was never a Plastic growing up. I was never the popular kid. So, it feels powerful to know that’s the first time people will see you and that’s their first impression. In a way it’s kinda helpful for the character to live with that level of confidence, as opposed to a normal person walking on stage – heaven forbid! (Laughs) I know that Taylor [Louderman], who plays Regina, really feels that. The entrance is really powerful for her in terms of the way she has to hold the ground and I feel that way too.

It’s a little like Charlie’s Angels 2018 plus lip gloss

Absolutely! A lot of lip gloss and maybe a little bit of bleach!

(Photo by Austin Yang)

Mean Girls Tickets are available now for performances through to July 7, 2019.