Stephanie Bissonnette, a dancer and choreographer best known for her role in the original Broadway production of the musical “Mean Girls,” died Sunday. Bissonnette was diagnosed in 2019 with medulloblastoma, a rare brain cancer, according to her Playbill obituary. She was 32 years old.
“Our hearts are broken as the psychics girls community mourns the loss of Stephanie Bissonnette,” it read Message From the Broadway musical’s Twitter account on Sunday. Our original producer, Dawn Switzer [sic]Stephanie has been a part of our Broadway company from our first show to our last.”
“She filled our stage with her laughter and friendship, inspired us with her fighting spirit and courage, and brought to our stage the wildest talent Broadway has ever known.” Another tweet From the musician’s account.
Bissonnette played Dawn Schweitzer, a character portrayed by Erin Thompson in the popular 2004 movie. She performed in the role from the first night of production in 2018 until the last time in 2020. She also appeared in the music video for Keith Urban’s 2018 single “Never Comin Down,” according to E! News.
After graduating from Point Park University’s Institute of Performing Arts, Bissonnette worked with Royal Caribbean Entertainment and moved to New York. She has choreographed shows for Muni, Seven, and Riverside Theatres, and for the Shakespeare Theater Company.
Playbill’s obituary for Bissonnette notes that she “first recognized what she described as a ‘tingling’ in her brain” during an “air landing pass” she performed in the musical “Mean Girls” in 2019. She underwent emergency surgery four days later — and on It seems recovered.
“I don’t think we would have found it [the tumor] If you work a normal nine-to-five job,” Bissonnette told SurvivorNet in February 2020.
“Because I move around a lot and do crazy things for a living – I’ve been doing it since I was five – just [that] A small moment in the show [made me go]Why am I in trouble today? There must be something else going on,” Bissonetti told the site.
Medulloblastoma most commonly affects children and adults between the ages of 20 and 40, according to the Cancer Research Center. The five-year survival rate is 72%, with treatments limited to surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and an option for clinical trials.
Bissonnette continued to work after surgery and radiotherapy. She participated in the “Ensemble” documentary about Broadway dancers during the 2020 pandemic lockdown. She also taught musical theater dance at Broadway Dance Center in New York.
In her spare time, she has been involved with charity projects such as When the Lights Are Bright Again – a book about the COVID-19 lockdown whose profits have gone to the Leisure Community Fund. In her school’s biography of Broadway Dance Center, she described the institution as her “second home”.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Stephanie’s family, friends, and the entire Mean Girls community during this time,” Tweet from “I mean girls” account Sunday reading. “We will miss her terribly and encourage everyone to do something they love today in honor of Stephanie.”
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