• Ann Arbor Native is the Meanest of the ‘Mean Girls’

    • By Gary Graff

    Nadina Hassan is not a mean girl by nature.

    But she’s happy to play one on stage.

    The Ann Arbor native is on the road these days portraying Regina George, the “Queen Bee” of The Plastics, the alpha females in the stage musical adaptation of the 2004 film “Mean Girls.” Written by “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star Tina Fey and based on the sociology book “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” it’s a sometimes comic but also insightful look at teen female dynamics and the corrupting nature of popularity and artifice. Regina is, for much of the production, the arbiter of taste, fashion and cool at the fictional North Shore High School in suburban Chicago, the meanest of all girls and, according to Hassan, a pleasure to play.

     “I never pegged myself in the Regina role, so (the show’s producers) definitely saw something in me that I didn’t, and I’m grateful for that,” Hassan, 23, says by phone from the “Mean Girls” tour stop in Dayton. “I do enjoy playing her. She’s very different from me, which is super fun. You get to step away from yourself a little bit and step into someone else’s shoes and look through their lens of life.

    “She’s very conniving. It’s fun to play with her intelligence in different ways, how she manipulates people and has power over people. And the songs are SO fabulous.”

    Hassan was, in fact, a fan of the “Mean Girls” film, watching it “countless times” with her older sister and mother. She also saw the original Broadway cast — which was nominated for a dozen Tony Awards — perform it twice on Broadway and “totally loved it. I always wanted to be in it.”

    “Mean Girls” is, in fact, Hassan’s first major production as a professional actor. Raised in an “arts appreciating” household, part of “a family with lots of doctors, lots of people in the medical field,” she attended musicals from a young age at the Wharton Center in East Lansing and later at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre. She began taking vocal lessons after her sister started, making her first appearance in “The Lorax” during fourth grade.

    “I wasn’t great at the beginning, but you work and continue,” Hassan says. “It was seeing those shows at a young age — ‘Wicked,’ ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ being in complete awe of what those people were able to do. So always in the back of my head there was no other thought for me other than, ‘That’s what I want to do!'”

    Hassan attended Skyline High School in Ann Arbor but did theatrical work at Pioneer High School, then earned a degree in musical theater from Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio. As the theater world shut down after the pandemic — ending “Mean Girls'” Broadway run at just under two years — Hassan came back to Ann Arbor, taking additional acting classes online and going through virtual auditions. She tried out for “Mean Girls” during the summer of 2021, then was brought into New York for a final callback and became the second touring Regina.

    “It was crazy,” Hassan notes. “I’m so fortunate to start this young, with a role like this. I feel very fortunate to be where I am.”

    Among her future goals are originating roles on Broadway, as well as working in film and TV. “Mean Girls,” meanwhile, has already played at the Wharton Center, but Hassan expects the Fisher Theatre run will be another great moment in her fledgling career.

    “Oh , it’s going to be so special I can’t even put it into words,” she says. “So many people are coming, friends and family from all over, like everybody’s coming home. I’ve never even been backstage (at the Fisher), so that’s going to be totally surreal.”

    “Mean Girls” runs Tuesday, June 7 through June 19 at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. $40 and up. 313-872-1000 or broadwayindetroit.com.

    To view the full article, visit Ann Arbor native is the meanest of the ‘Mean Girls’ – The Oakland Press


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