It takes a good actress to play a bad girl. And Taylor Louderman is that actress.
As Ice Queen Regina George, the leader of The Plastics, a high school clique in the Broadway musical “Mean Girls” (with a book by Tina Fey, based on her 2004 movie of the same name), Louderman kicks ass whenever she makes an entrance, strikes a sexy supermodel pose (the actress is long and lean, with legs that go on forever and cascading blonde curls) or belts out a lyric like, “I will grind you to sand/Beneath my Louboutin heels.” Regina’s “got the gasoline” to set the world on fire.
And so does Louderman, something critics were quick to point out when the show opened on April 8, 2018: “Every inch the ‘Queen of Beasts,‘” wrote Marilyn Stasio in Variety; “sensational,” enthused Adam Feldman inTime Out New York. The ultimate accolade, however, came on May 1 when 2018 Tony Award nominations were announced: Louderman is up for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. Fans will have to wait until the awards ceremony on June 10 to see if this mean girl dances off with live theater’s most coveted prize, but for now she’s riding the crest of the Broadway wave.
Not bad for a Midwesterner whose every ambition was to land on the Great White Way and whose first trip to NYC was when she was in high school. “My parents drove an RV through the city like true Midwesterners to pick me up,” she remembers. “Yup, I am from a small town, so I was definitely on sensory overload. I remember having walked SO much my feet hurt, but I never got bored because there was so much to take in. I loved and hated the smells all at the same time.”
She was in town that first visit for a musical theater workshop (natch), which meant, “Pizza at Sbarro in Times Square and Madame Tussauds! I wish I’d studied up on the best spots in town, but I was too overwhelmed. I was used to staring into an abyss of cows and trees.”
Fast-forward (Louderman is now 27, with three Broadway shows on her résumé), and her tastes have definitely changed. Instead of pizza at Sbarro, a harvest salad at Sweet Green is “my dream.” She loves a good rooftop bar with tasty bites, like Westlight in Brooklyn. Other faves in Brooklyn are Avocaderia for eats (it’s an avocado bar!) and CatBird “for trendy jewelry gems.” A walk through Chelsea Market isn’t complete without a walk along the High Line. (And when you see just how devilishly slim and svelte Taylor is in “Mean Girls,” you’ll understand that a walk in the park is no mere walk in the park for this actress.) “I am really into healthy eating,” she says, but that doesn’t mean she deprives herself of goat cheese truffles at Caselulla, “my favorite wine bar.” There’s a branch of Dig Inn near the August Wilson Theatre, home of “Mean Girls.” “It’s a Broadway community hot spot,” Taylor says, letting an insider tip out of the bag.
There’s an old saying, “You can take the girl out of the Bronx, but you can’t take the Bronx out of the girl.” The same goes for girls from the Midwest. Taylor may be the Queen Bee of Broadway, but she finds the country in the city whenever she can. She goes to Union Square’s green market for flowers and produce, Bryant Park for “lunch breaks and winter fun” (editor’s note: There’s an ice-skating rink in cold weather), the Reservoir and Sheep Meadow in Central Park. The American Museum of Natural History “always has a new exhibit to discover.” South Street Seaport is another favorite spot. As to getting around, Louderman rents a Citi Bike. “I’m obsessed,” she exclaims.
Regina George is also obsessed, but in a different way from the actress who embodies her eight performances a week. What would Regina do in NYC?
“Regina would definitely hit up the trendiest spots for an Insta photo,” Taylor says. “She’d make you all too aware that she’s staying at the Plaza and dining at Blue Box Café. Also, Barneys on Madison Avenue because ‘get in, loser, we’re going shopping;’ Soho House ‘because you can’t sit with us … unless you’re a member;’ a front-row bike at Soul Cycle; stretching in the mirror at Equinox; Rumble Boxing; and the reflecting pool in front of the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center for a pic.”
Food, too, would be on Regina’s plate. But only so much and only if it’s the latest trend. Here’s where you’d find Regina, according to Louderman: “While We Were Young or Pietro Nolita (but only on Wednesday because it’s pink, and Plastics only wear pink on Wednesday), Polo Bar, Cha Cha Matcha, Do (but she would only have a bite of the cookie dough for the Insta boomerang), Broken Coconut and Pomme Frites (because ‘Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.’)”
Poles apart when it comes to experiencing NYC, there is nonetheless a bond between actress and character. “I love how strong Regina is,” Taylor says. “I so idolize how she owns who she is and never apologizes for it. I love that she forces me to walk tall every night.” Tall enough to be nominated for the Tony Award.
Gallery: See Taylor Louderman in Action