Mean Girls Alum Krystina Alabado On How Trusting Yourself Is the Biggest Career Game Changer | Playbill

How Did I Get Here Mean Girls Alum Krystina Alabado On How Trusting Yourself Is the Biggest Career Game Changer

She is currently starring in Jonathan Larson's tick, tick… BOOM! for the second time.

Krystina Alabado Graphic by Vi Dang

Krystina Alabado, who spent a year playing Gretchen Wieners in Broadway's Mean Girls, is currently starring in The Cape Playhouse's limited engagement of Jonathan Larson's semi-autobiographical tick, tick… BOOM! through June 15 in Dennis, Massachusetts.

Alabado, also seen on Broadway in American Idiot and American Psycho, plays Susan opposite Andy Mientus (Spring Awakening) as Jonathan and Larry Owens (A Strange Loop) as Michael. It's actually the second time the Broadway actor has played Susan—she and Mientus starred in the Bucks County Playhouse production of the musical last year, also directed by Eric Rosen, Cape Playhouse's newly appointed artistic director.

Alabado has been seen in the national tours of Evita, American Idiot, and Spring Awakening, while her Off-Broadway credits include The Mad Ones, Ain’t No Disco, and David Bowie's Lazarus as well as regional productions of Mystic Pizza and Sunday in the Park With George. On screen she has appeared in Hazbin Hotel, Better Nate Than Ever, If You See Something, The Zombie Wedding, First Reformed, Tyrant, God Friended Me, Monster High, Mecha Builders, and Voltron.

In the interview below for the Playbill series How Did I Get Here—spotlighting not only actors, but directors, designers, musicians, and others who work on and off the stage to create the magic that is live theatre—Alabado shares how to accept rejection and the importance of public school teachers.

Andy Mientus and Krystina Alabado in Tick, Tick... BOOM! Joan Marcus

Where did you train/study?
Krystina Alabado: I always say I went to the University of Spring Awakening, ha! I was going to ASU [Arizona State University] studying acting, and I went to an open call for the OG Spring Awakening tour in 2008. I ended up booking the first national tour, so I went on the tour as the swing for two years and then moved to NYC, and the rest is history. It was the best training I could have ever received—learning on the job was such a unique way to learn and get immersed in the industry. And being a swing made it even better!

Was there a teacher who was particularly impactful/helpful? What made this instructor stand out?
Because I didn’t go to college, my high school drama teachers were pivotal to me doing this for a living. Specifically, Christina Vail from Hamilton High School, my public school. She encouraged me to pursue my dreams and always made me feel like I could do this. Her training/encouragement is one of the reasons I’m doing this. Go, public school teachers!

This is the second time you've played Susan in tick, tick… BOOM! Do you have a favorite moment in the show for her and how does the musical resonate with you?
God, I love tick, tick…BOOM! so much. I’m so happy to be playing Susan and others again. The show is so special to me. I think my favorite part of doing the show is actually that I get to play Susan, and Karessa, and Jonathan's agent and mom and all those other smaller parts with Michael. It makes the show feel super whimsy and is so fun as an actor to get to bounce back and forth. The harmonies also really get me; they are so gorgeous, especially "Johnny Can’t Decide." It’s so good, and obviously singing "Come to Your Senses" is such an epic song to sing. I love it! And just to continue telling Jonathan’s legacy to audiences is so special and important.

Krystina Alabado, Reneé Rapp, Kate Rockwell, and Erika Henningsen in Mean Girls

Can you share a favorite memory—either on stage or backstage—from your time in Mean Girls?
Mean Girls from start to finish was so special. I have lifelong friends from that show, which doesn’t happen all the time, so it was just the best! I think my favorite memories are definitely being on the second floor, where all the Plastics and Janis and Mrs. George’s dressing rooms were. Kate [Rockwell] and I had the craziest, funniest times in our little dressing room; I’ve never laughed so hard! And, I miss my costumes all the time. It was so fun to dress like that. I loved that I got to make people laugh every day with something they love so much.

Can you share a favorite onstage mishap?
My favorite mishaps definitely happened during Mean Girls. It was always a costume malfunction. I had many a zipper bust before I had to run on stage, the funniest one being during "Whose House Is This?" I was wearing a jean jumpsuit that zipped all the way from top to bottom, and it broke in my quick change! We had no time to pin it, so I had to run on stage and sing "What’s Wrong With Me?" reprise and "Whose House" holding it closed with one hand and doing choreo with the other, hahaha. Everyone came together and kept throwing me random shirts to tie around my waist and wear to cover up, and I’ve never laughed harder! And loved my cast more!

Do you have a dream stage role that you've yet to play or any role that you'd like to revisit?
It changes all the time, but right now my dream is to originate a role in a show that I’m super passionate about. My favorite thing in this business is workshopping and developing new musicals. It’s so artistically fulfilling and so special to be part of that Broadway magic. So my dream role is coming soon!

What made you decide to become an actor? Was there a particular production or performance that influenced your decision?
I started out singing from a young age with my dad, so I was always singing, and then I learned about musical theatre seeing a touring production of The Lion King in my hometown, Phoenix, Arizona, and the minute I saw that show I was like…I wanna do that. And I never looked back. I did every show I could at school, joined choir and dance and drama class, and it truly is the joy of my life doing this, even when it’s hard.

Krystina Alabado and Michael Thomas Grant in Mystic Pizza Jason Niedle

Is there a person or people you most respect in your field and why?
For me, the people I respect the most in this industry are those that are kind and heart forward. So much about this business is hard and challenging, and there’s a lot of rejection, but the people are what make it worth it. Being kind and loyal are such important qualities to me in the business as an actor and artist, so those that hold true to that and treat each other like human beings are those I carry with me always. People that say things like “well, it’s a rough business” as an excuse bother me because it doesn’t have to be as rough if we treat each other with love always. That’s how I strive to be!

Tell me about a job/opportunity you really wanted but didn’t get. How did you get over that disappointment?
So much of being an actor is dealing with rejection and disappointment. I don’t even have a specific one that stands out because I’ve lost out on so many that I wanted. But I’ve also booked many shows I’ve wanted, too! I think people sometimes think, “When I make it to Broadway, the rejection gets easier” or there’s less of it, and it’s actually not true at all; it almost gets harder as you are competing on a higher level. But it’s still worth it 'cause when one hits, it was meant to be! You have to trust the process and try not to take it personally and just work hard and believe.

What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now?
That being myself and trusting myself would be the biggest game changer in booking work! I think it’s really easy to think, “I need to do a role a certain way to do it ‘right’ and book it.” But actually, what gets you the job is making it your own! That and again, work work work. Take risks and chances, and have fun!

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