It’s been 14 years since “Mean Girls” hit cinemas — but it’s only gotten more timely.
“The movie was about relational aggression among women,” said Tina Fey, the movie’s screenwriter and also the author of the book of the Broadway musical adaptation that opened April 8. “But now that behavior has really metastasized across our society, and you see it everywhere. You see it in people being horrible to each other on social media. So if anything, it’s gone wider. It’s such an escalation in the interpersonal arms race.”
Social media didn’t really exist in 2004 the way it does now — and that’s exactly why it couldn’t be ignored in the new Broadway version. “You would immediately know that it was not of the present, if social media wasn’t part of it,” said Jeff Richmond, the musical’s composer (who is also Fey’s husband and frequent collaborator). “But we also didn’t try to lean into it too hard, either.”
Fey and Richmond were speaking at the afterparty for “Mean Girls,” following an opening night performance that attracted a who’s-who of well-wishers including Jerry Seinfeld, Jimmy Fallon, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Busy Philipps, Glenn Close, Diane Sawyer and NBC’s Robert Greenblatt. The show has bowed on Broadway to boffo box office numbers, following a run in Washington, D.C. last year.
The collaborators, who also include lyricist Nell Benjamin (“Legally Blonde”) and director Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon,” “Aladdin”) have done a lot of work since that D.C. tryout, including five new songs — two that were put in during technical rehearsal for Broadway.
“The new finale had never been done before we did it the night before the first preview performance,” Nicholaw revealed.
But after their years on “Saturday Night Live,” Fey and Richmond are used to rewriting up until the last minute. And they’d love to do another Broadway musical.
“For sure,” Fey said. “But I don’t have any other movies, so I better start combing through public domain!”