Original 'Mean Girls' Actor Daniel Franzese Comes Out to Support Tina Fey's Musical Adaptation
Franzese, who played Damian in Fey's 2004 teen comedy, attended the Broadway show inspired by the film, which Franzese says is "its own new thing."
Fourteen years after Daniel Franzese originated the role of Damian in Mean Girls, the actor is gladly passing the torch. He came out on Tuesday night to support the teen comedy's Broadway adaptation, and loved it.
Afterward, Franzese took to Instagram to share a photo of himself and the show's new Damian, Grey Henson, accompanied by a caption praising the production.
"Such an incredible experience to see @greyhenson slay the stage as Damian in @meangirlsbway. A big ‘Four for you!’ to the whole brilliant cast!" the Looking alum wrote. "The show is its own new thing and that thing is fabulous. Can’t wait to see it again."
After presenting the cast with Mean Girls-inspired cookies — imprinted with images of the show's Playbill and other iconic moments from the screenplay-turned-musical — Franzese left his signature on the wall of New York's August Wilson Theatre. "I totally went here!" he wrote, referencing one of his most memorable lines from the film: "She doesn't even go here!"
Later, Henson reposted Franzese's Instagram, simply writing, "Damianz." Following Mean Girls' opening night on Sunday, Henson told The Hollywood Reporter that Tina Fey — who wrote the original screenplay and shepherded its transition onto Broadway with director Casey Nicholaw — played an instrumental part in helping him reinvent Damian for audiences in 2018.
"Tina really gave us permission to create our own versions of the characters," he said during a post-show celebration at TAO Downtown. "We were allowed to reinvent these roles, and she actually started writing for us."
Henson went on to say that Fey's book "definitely honors" the original characters. (Spoiler alert: Damian is still "too gay to function.") However, he emphasized that the musical "is its own version of Mean Girls."
The actor continued: "When you have people sing, they're singing because they can't speak anymore. So you dive deeper into their psyches, and that's why musical theater is so cool. It pushes the message further."
Henson shines — and shows off his tap dancing skills — in one of the show's most outstanding numbers, "Stop," Damian's hilarious dissertation on curbing one's impulses in the social media era. According to Henson, the musical is "amazing because Damian is a theater queen, so you get to see more of who he is."
But if Henson ever decides to take a break, don't expect Franzese to fill in. Director and choreographer Nicholaw told THR he isn't keen on bringing back stars of the movie to perform amid Broadway's "stunt casting" trend.
"I shouldn't say that, but it's a different thing. First of all, they're probably a little on the older side for it," he said of Lindsay Lohan (Cady Heron), Rachel McAdams (Regina George) and the rest of the original cast. "If it was someone going into a smaller role, maybe. But it's very hard in a musical. I think Mean Girls is the star of the show, as opposed to a star coming in and doing it."