Reneé Rapp made a grand entrance onto Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre stage last June, rising via a platform alongside seven other finalists at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. A year after winning, she made another dramatic appearance on a Broadway stage—this time, wheeled out on a cafeteria table against a splash of DayGlo pink.
The 19-year-old makes her Broadway debut as queen bee Regina George in Mean Girls, securing the role months after her success at the competition known to most as the Jimmy Awards. “I remember being lifted up at the Minskoff, and now I get rolled out on a table every night. It’s super full circle,” she says before adding, with a laugh, “But it’s strange: What am I going to do when I’m in a show where I have to dance or something?”
Rapp opted to move to New York and pursue music over college, but she’s still living the student life (onstage) and sees a teacher or colleague in everyone around her. “You are making instant connections with people who just want to see you win,” she says. “The more they want that for you, the more you want to provide.”
The performer also got a lesson in longevity while performing a three-week stint in June while original star Taylor Louderman took a scheduled hiatus. (Rapp officially assumes the role full-time September 10.) On top of ways to finesse her portrayal of the head Plastic, the “trial run” yielded tips in “the mental aspect of it.” She explains: “It’s hard when the day might not be 100 percent, but you still have to be. If you don’t feel like the most confident person in the room that day, you still better in the show.”
As for extracurriculars, head to Instagram to hear her riff through Beyoncé, Pink, and Demi Lovato. “I never thought I would be doing musical theatre,” admits Rapp, who also recorded a solo album this summer. “I sing R&B and soul. But they were like, ‘Here are the reins; this is what you need to do; have fun with it.’”
Once she settled into the role, the fear of isolating her talents into separate boxes dissipated. “I only know one way to sing, and that’s me. I can’t morph who I am as an artist into two different fields; I can just be who I am at all times.”
And for now, who is she? Her name is Regina George, and she is a massive deal.