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‘Mean Girls’ Broadway actors dish on their own high school experiences

Cheech Manohar, who plays Kevin Gnapoor, was actually a mathlete.

"Mean Girls" is turning the August Wilson Theatre pink through March 31. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The core of “Mean Girls” is right there in its title. But make no mistake, the guys are vital members of Tina Fey’s movie-turned-book-turned Broadway production.

When delving into what’s one of the most quotable teen flicks of the early 2000s, the men — Damian Hubbard, Aaron Samuels, Kevin Gnapoor and Principal Duvall — deliver some pretty classic one-liners.

Think about it: We wouldn’t have a “You go, Glen Coco” moment to relive every holiday season or a mathletes rap to spit out without Damian and Kevin. And what would we do every Oct. 3 if Aaron hadn’t told us what day it was?

Bottom line, the guys of “Mean Girls” are a pretty important part of this exaggerated high school experience that’s taking over the August Wilson Theatre through March 31.

Below, we chat with the actors about their own high school experiences.

Grey Henson as Damian Hubbard

Janis and Cady’s “too gay to function” best friend is played by Grey Henson, whom you may recognize from the Tony-winning “The Book of Mormon.” Growing up in Georgia, the actor, 27, says “Mean Girls” served up his first portrayal of a gay character on the big screen. “I watched it at least once a month growing up with my best friends,” he recalls.

Spending his high school years at a theater school down south, Henson notes avoiding the whole real-life “mean girl” saga by simply being a friendly face around campus. He was even crowned his school’s prom king. Still, he saw much of himself reflected in the character he now gets to portray on stage. T>

“Mean Girls” fans have his character, Damian, to thank for several of the flick’s recitable one-liners, and you can bet they pop up in the stage adaptation. Most notably, keep your eyes peeled for the brink of a “She doesn’t even go here!” moment.

“I’m wearing a blue hoodie and you can feel the room be like, ‘when’s he gonna say it?’ ” Henson says.

Questionable teen moment: “There’s probably too many of them, to be honest. I, for some reason, grew my hair out where it was long enough to be like ‘something’s up with this guy.’ I have pictures from seventh and eighth grade. My hair had all this body and was flouncy. I thought I looked so cool, always in Hollister — Birkenstocks for days.”

Yearbook superlative: Most likely to be famous

Cheech Manohar as Kevin Gnapoor

Cheech Manohar, 22, plays rap genius Kevin Gnapoor, and, yes, he was actually in the mathletes at his Pittsburgh high school. Pretty grool, right?

The actor landed his debut theater role by showing up incredibly prepared for his audition — he wrote his own version of the Kevin Gnapoor talent show rap and performed it for Tina Fey.

“The listing said they wanted the actor who plays Kevin to have rap skills and a sense of humor. I ended up writing a parody rap of the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme song,” he recalls. “I went through eight callbacks in three weeks and then the final one was for the entire creative team.”

While there are clear parallels between Manohar and his smooth character, the actor warns fans that the classic “Kevin G” rap may be different on the Broadway stage.

“There’s definitely some rapping from the mathletes. It might not be what the audience is expecting, but I think they’ll be satisfied with it one way or another,” he says.

Questionable teen moment: Like Cady’s zombie bride look, Manohar has his own regrettable Halloween costume choice. “They were pretty awesome, though. I had a homemade Edward Scissorhands, a Professor Quirrell from ‘Harry Potter’ with a mask I attached to the back of my head with light bulbs. I was maybe too into Halloween than you should be at your senior year of high school.”

Yearbook superlative: Drama king

Kyle Selig as Aaron Samuels

Your new “Mean Girls” heartthrob, Aaron Samuels, is played by Kyle Selig, a 25-year-old Huntington Beach, California, native who moved to NYC five years ago. He got his Broadway start in 2011 in “The Book of Mormon” but feels the role of Cady Heron’s (Erika Henningsen) and Regina George’s (Taylor Louderman) love interest suits him well.

“I think a lot of us end up playing ourselves,” he says. “Like, Grey is really Damian — with the exception of Taylor, who is actually the sweetest.”

Selig says he relates to his character’s drive to be his best, but notes spending his high school years at Huntington Beach Academy of the Performing Arts helped him avoid the clique mentality — “The cool kids were the art kids, not the sports kids.”

Admittedly, he wasn’t a “Mean Girls” junkie when the flick hit theaters in 2004. “What’s funny was, I actually used to brag in college that I’d only seen it once or twice,” he says. Of course, he watched it several times to prep for the big role. His favorite line is — shocker — not “It’s Oct. 3.” It’s actually the lunchroom jab, “Your hair looks sexy pushed back.”

“The amount of people who have said that to me since getting this role is pretty great,” he says.

Questionable teen moment: “I was in a production of ‘The King and I’ and I dyed my hair dark black, like stark black. I thought it would wash out, but it didn’t. Instead, my blonde hair started growing back in and I did this real cute middle part in high school. With my roots coming in, I had this blonde stripe down the middle. I looked just like a skunk. It was bad.”

Yearbook superlative: Most likely to succeed. “Also, I was prom king. It was gross.”

Rick Younger as Mr. Duvall

Rick Younger of Baltimore wouldn’t exactly call himself a “Mean Girls” fan, but he does identify as a hard-core “Saturday Night Live” viewer. The late-night tie-in led him to Tina Fey’s flick 14 years ago.

Younger says he tried to find people in his own life who could serve as “proxies for the character” of Principal Duvall, instead of trying to replicate the methods of “Saturday Night Live” alum Tim Meadows, who first held the role.

He turned to his cousin, the first black headmaster at a private school in Baltimore, for inspiration. “I thought the dynamic of North Shore High made a great parallel for a black principal at a school that’s very diverse. My brother’s also a retired state trooper, so I brought that into the role.”

Questionable teen moment: “I also have a talent-show moment. My cousin was in my band but went to a rival high school. He signed us up to be a part of his talent show. Our band was pretty good — the guys still play to this day. But, somewhere within our set people got wind that we were from the rival school. The girls’ cheering started to get interspersed with guys booing. They got security to stop our performance and escort us out of the building safely.”

Yearbook superlative: Most likely to start a New Edition cover band

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