Aaron Samuels and Cady Heron in Broadway Across Canada's Mean Girls
Adante Carter (Aaron Samuels) and English Bernhardt (Cady Heron). Image: Jenny Anderson/Provided.
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Adante Carter is Aaron Samuels in Broadway Across Canada’s Mean Girls

Tina Fey’s Mean Girls (2004) is a much-loved story of high school, friends, and frenemies, partly based on a combination of Fey’s high school experiences and the book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. Since the film’s release and roaring success, Fey has worked with producers and actors alike to adapt Mean Girls for the stage, with new music, new jokes, and social media.

After spending two years on Broadway, Mean Girls is coming to Canada, produced by Broadway Across Canada. The production will spend a week in Ottawa before going to Toronto for another five weeks. Opening night in Ottawa is Tuesday, Oct. 18 at the National Arts Centre.

The Fulcrum sat down with Adante Carter, who plays Aaron Samuels, ahead of the cast’s arrival in Ottawa. For Carter, a South Dakota native, this will be his first time performing in Canada.

Carter grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota — a small town roughly 20 minutes away from Mount Rushmore, he explained. There, he was involved in the town’s “vibrant arts community,” getting into theatre via gymnastics and a production of Beauty and the Beast, in which he played the role of a tumbling rug. After years of being involved in hometown and high school productions, Carter went on to major in musical theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles.

Being a Mean Girls fan growing up, Carter found his high school experience to be nothing like Mean Girls. “I got to high school, and it was nothing like high school… there were no Plastics, fortunately, in my school.”

While Carter never belonged to a single clique, he said the “cross sections of people in high school” is “very similar to what we do because of the opening number, the big welcome to North Shore number, where the character Damian is introducing Cady in the lunchroom, all the different cliques.”

Playing Aaron Samuels is similar. “I find that in Aaron, he’s kind of known across North Shore from all cliques and groups. And my approach to the character is that he’s just friends with anyone, he doesn’t really have any true enemies. And whether that be a good quality or bad quality with Regina, he’s really attracted to people that are their most authentic selves.”

Authenticity and being one’s most authentic self was a recurring subject during the interview. His approach to bringing the role of Aaron Samuels to life, he said, was by “bringing my most authentic self back into high school … and I feel like I’m doing a great service to the character by just being the authentic me.”

Finally, the Fulcrum asked Carter about how Mean Girls was adapted to be true to 2022. The musical features social media playing a major role in the lives of high school students, in a way it didn’t in 2004.

“So even more so now that there are layers that social media is an awesome tool, but it can also be just super destructive into the lives of teenagers. And, you know, it’s the new way to gossip and pass notes. And I feel like that really elevates the stakes of being in high school.”

In the musical’s case, Carter said, “I think it’s a great marriage of this classic script in this classic formula that we have Mean Girls that we know and love, but adding that added layer of ‘wow, this is happening.’ You know, the way that they’ve integrated those moments really exacerbates the problems of Regina George, the Plastics in North Shore and the toxicity of social media, and how impactful it is on students’ lives in our show.”

In the end, the musical is a comedy with a deeper message that shows audiences how important it is for everyone to be their most authentic selves.

You can find Adante Carter on stage at the National Arts Centre from Oct. 18 to Oct. 23, or on Instagram at @adantecarter.