×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Stagecraft Podcast: Tina Fey on Comedy, Broadway and ‘Mean Girls’

When Tina Fey was writing her first Broadway musical — “Mean Girls,” now nominated for 12 Tony Awards — she sometimes felt a little at sea. “There were definitely moments where I would just sit and Google things like, ‘Act II Opener,'” she said on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast.

Good thing, then, that she got advice from the best sources — like the late Mike Nichols, who knew a thing or two about Broadway success. Early in the show’s development process, “Mean Girls” producer (and the creator and longtime producer of “Saturday Night Live”) Lorne Michaels brought his friend Nichols to a showcase of the material. “His note at the time — we only had four or five songs then — was: ‘People need to sing to each other more,'” Fey said. “Everyone was singing pronouncements out. And it was the most clear, correct note.”

Fey wrote the book to “Mean Girls,” adapting her own screenplay from the 2004 film comedy, with composer Jeff Richmond (her frequent collaborator and husband) and lyricist Nell Benjamin (“Legally Blonde”) penning the tunes. On Stagecraft, the songwriters talked through how they found the show’s musical palette.

“I don’t think we sat down and said, ‘It’s gonna sound like Jethro Tull,'” Benjamin cracked. “Rather than pick a style, it was, ‘What’s the voice, and how would that sing?'”

One character they found hardest to pin down musically was Regina, the ruthless leader of the Plastics (and the role played by Rachel McAdams in the movie). “She’s kind of a villain, and she’s got all this duality, and she’s very complicated in that way,” Richmond said. “But we found that she sounded like she wanted to be a Bond villain, in a Bond movie. Her themes were very cinematic and big, broad strokes.”

“Mean Girls” was the first stage musical for Richmond as well as for Fey. So the big question is: Do they want to do it again?

I would love to do another one,” Fey said. “Or I’d love to write a play. I realize, now that I know what I know, that I should have started two years ago, so that I’d only be three years away!”

Download and subscribe to Stagecraft on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

More Legit

  • The Play That Goes Wrong review

    BBC Orders Comedy Series Based on ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

    The BBC has greenlit “The Goes Wrong Show,” a new series based on Mischief Theatre’s popular “The Play That Goes Wrong” stage production about a troupe that puts on disastrous plays. The stage show has transferred from London’s West End to Broadway for a J.J. Abrams-produced version described by Variety as “a broad, silly and [...]

  • By the Way Meet Vera Stark

    Off Broadway Review: 'By the Way, Meet Vera Stark' by Lynn Nottage

    After writing two harrowing Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, “Sweat” and “Ruined,” Lynn Nottage is entitled to have a little fun. But while this revival of her new play, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” walks and talks like a screwball comedy, it has a real brain in its head. Before we get too serious, let’s meet [...]

  • Merrily We Roll AlongRoundabout Theatre CompanyMERRILY

    Off Broadway Review: 'Merrily We Roll Along'

    Like the optimistic youths at the end — or is it the beginning? — of “Merrily We Roll Along,” creatives keep going back to this problematic Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical, re-imagining the show in the hope that the end results will be different this time around. They’re not. But disappointments are often off-set by new [...]

  • My Fair Lady Laura Benanti

    Listen: Laura Benanti on 'My Fair Lady' and the Secret to Her Melania Trump Impersonation

    Laura Benanti is now playing her dream role on Broadway. At the same time, the Tony winner (“Gypsy”) is also playing her toughest part ever. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “It’s the most demanding part I think I’ll probably play,” said Benanti, now appearing as Eliza Doolittle in Lincoln Center Theater’s well-received revival of [...]

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    'Hamilton' Panic Over Mistaken Reports of Gunfire Injures Three in San Francisco

    Three people were injured after mistaken reports of an active shooter at a San Francisco production of “Hamilton” caused attendees to flee the theater. CNN reported that a woman experienced a medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — during a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play wherein Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content