When adapting a movie into a Broadway musical comedy, you have to kill some darlings. But it can be tough.
“I get a little bit like: Please put ‘Boo, you whore’ back in it! I have to hear that line!” says the director Casey Nicholaw on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast. He’s talking about his latest project: the upcoming musical version of “Mean Girls,” which has become one of the buzziest shows of the spring.
Nicholaw certainly knows about film-to-stage adaptations. His production of “Aladdin” is celebrating its fourth birthday this year as one of Broadway’s highest-grossing shows, and he’s also worked on shows like “Spamalot” (the musical version of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”) and “Elf.” He’s also got “The Book of Mormon” on the boards, and the new musical comedy “The Prom” on the way in the fall.
All of that makes Nicholaw Broadway’s go-to guy for musical comedy. On Stagecraft, he talks about working with Tina Fey, who’s adapting her own screenplay for “Mean Girls” for the musical, and also remembers what it took to get “Aladdin” right onstage.
Collaborators struggled, he recalls, to get to the genie as fast as early audiences at “Aladdin” wanted them to. In the same musical, there was a song, “Palace Walls,” that they wrote on the fly in Toronto, where the show played before Broadway. “That was literally us going, ‘Right now, we’re gonna get a new song. Right now,'” Casey says. “We all locked ourselves in Alan’s hotel room and we just sat around the piano. In a half an hour we had that song.”
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