Alums Make Big-Screen Debut in Musical Adaptation of Mean Girls

Francesca Castro and Matilde Heckler bring "Band Freak" energy to the cinematic version of Tina Fey's 2018 Broadway production. 

January 11, 2024

When the new movie musical Mean Girls hits theaters this Friday, two recent Berklee graduates will appear on the big screen for the first time—aptly, playing the part of musicians. In this adaptation of the 2018 Broadway play written by Tina Fey, Francesca Castro B.M. ’21 and Matilde Heckler B.M. ’23 are featured as two of the four “Band Freaks” who support the main characters and help carry the musical’s plot to fruition.

“The original Mean Girls is my comfort movie, so it’s really cool to be a part of this musical adaptation,” says Castro.

“It was so much fun. There are scenes where we’re playing on steps, on tables, and even in trees,” adds Heckler.

Given their Berklee backgrounds, playing the role of students who are obsessed with their instruments came quite naturally.

Francesco Castro

Francesca Castro B.M. ’21
Image courtesy of the artist 

Castro, a singer and guitarist, double-majored in performance and contemporary writing and production, and attended Berklee on a full scholarship. She performed in several of the college’s prestigious ensembles, including the Terence Blanchard XTET and Tower of Power ensembles, and worked with jazz legends Terri Lyne Carrington, Nicholas Payton, and Dee Dee Bridgewater '15H.

Heckler, a multi-instrumentalist with a focus on violin, graduated this past December with a degree in music business/management. Also an accomplished violist, pianist, bassist, and singer, she has performed with Mark Woods, the Berks Sinfonietta, the Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra, and many community pit orchestras and peer bands. In the movie, the alums perform in several musical numbers, including “I’d Rather Be Me,” “Apex Predator,” “I See Stars,” “Revenge Party,” and “Someone Gets Hurt.” They’re also featured in a reprise of “Stupid with Love.”

Neither of these Band Freaks had ever auditioned for a movie before—nor had they ever met prior to the audition callback. Coincidentally, they each heard about the audition through Berklee’s social media network. Heckler’s mom forwarded an announcement posted on the Berklee parents’ Facebook page, while Castro, who was living in Los Angeles at the time, learned of the auditions through the Berklee LA alumni community page. When they met for the first time at the callback in New Jersey, they discovered they were both Berklee graduates. During the final audition round, they happened to be grouped together to perform some of the songs featured in the film, to see if they would be compatible onscreen.

“They couldn’t have chosen a better group of people to play the parts of the Band Freaks. We just clicked,” Heckler says.

Both alums attribute their success—in both the audition process and their performances in the film—to their academic and ensemble experiences at Berklee.

Castro credits Peter Eldridge, a professor in the Voice Department, for his private instruction as well as his courses, Before and After: The Art of Song Reinvention and Great American Songbook Ensemble.

Matilde Heckler

Matilde Heckler B.M. ’23
Image courtesy of the artist 

“People who attend Berklee come from all over the world and I’m inspired by them,” she observes. “They really helped me find myself and shaped who I’ve become as a musician.”

Similarly, Heckler thanks Sara Caswell, an associate professor in the String Department, for teaching her how to “loosen up on my instrument,” improvise, and extend her reach into rock and pop. At Berklee, she also had the opportunity to play electric violin in the Women in Rock ensemble, an experience she described as “awesome.” As a perk of being on set for two months during filming, Castro and Heckler met and spent time with the movie’s stars—including Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Jenna Fischer, Jon Hamm, Busy Philipps, Angourie Rice, Reneé Rapp, Bebe Wood, and Christopher Briney.

They viewed Mean Girls in its entirety for the first time on January 8 at a special screening organized by the film’s producers in New York City.

Next up, Castro will be releasing a new album of original songs called Two on January 19. She’s currently performing on Broadway as a guitar sub in the musical SIX, in the role of “Maggie on Guitar.”

Fresh from graduation, Heckler has already become involved with artist management and marketing. She's been releasing her own original songs and has a new EP, portrait of a, due out this year. She’s also considering auditioning for more movie roles in the future.

“I would definitely do it again,” she says. “The experience really opened my eyes to something I could do with my musical background that I hadn’t considered before.”

Related Categories