Back in summer 2013, Playbill.com spoke with Benjamin about the project that had just begun development. As previously reported, Fey is adapting the screenplay for the musical's book, with Richmond penning music and all three writers collaborating on lyrics.
In a separate interview earlier this week, Richmond told Yahoo that 60 percent of the show was completed. Benjamin stated that the team has much of the first draft in place, but added, "Sometimes you have to throw out 90 percent of your first 60 percent, but sure. We've been having so much fun with it."
Here's what Benjamin was able to share with Playbill.com March 20 about the latest on Mean Girls.
Mean Girls will be more than just a stage-to-screen adaptation:
"The process has been starting with the movie, but also thinking about what's going to make it a musical theatre piece. And if you've read 'Bossy Pants,' you know that Tina and Jeff were theatre kids. They were theatre geeks. So, we don't want to do some kind of cynical thing like, 'Oh, let's just put the movie on stage and make a buck.' We really want to do something for the theatre kid in all of us, and it's been about trying to find the theatrical in what was in the movie."
About the "Old Blonde Song" that Richmond teased:
"Jeff teased the 'Old Blonde Song,' and you know, that's really Kurt Weill-y. The original 'Old Blonde Song' idea was that it was going to be sung entirely in German. But that's what makes Tina and Jeff so brilliant. So that's what we're talking about here. We want people who go to the theatre to come to the show and be like, 'Yes! It's a great theatre show and it's got all the jokes for us!' In addition to having all the material that the movie lovers love."
The collaborators are aiming to set up readings in the coming months:
"We were sort of planning to do a reading as early as May... One of those informal things where we sit down with the whole script and see what we've got. But there aren't people attached at this point."
"The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" put the breaks on the project temporarily:
"When they started working on 'Kimmy Schmidt,' that sort of slowed the process down enormously. And now we're slowed down because I'm obsessed with watching 'Kimmy Schmidt!'
I was like, 'I should just watch one episode,' and right now I'm working on two musicals at the same time. I'm out of town doing Because of Winn Dixie in Delaware, and then I'm doing the Gotta Dance presentations simultaneously in New York, so I've been busy. But, I thought, 'I'll put one episode on... and I watched six!'
"But 'Kimmy Schmidt' will show you the direction we're going. Tina's so sympathetic about living in New York and working in the theatre and this crazy premise."
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Benjamin on what it's like to write a new musical with Tina Fey and Jeff Richmond:
"Oh my god. It's so much fun. The two of them are improv gods, so it's nothing but 'Yes' in the room, which is how every writing project should be. It's always 'yes, yes, yes,' and we all try the craziest things. Eventually, whoever does direct is probably going to be like, 'Yeah, that's not going to work.'
"It's very exciting, and I feel very privileged to be working with Tina Fey and Jeff Richmond. I'm still not sure what bargain I struck with the devil to get here, but I don't regret it!"
The ever-busy Benjamin, who had musical theatre fans screaming "Omigod You Guys" with her lyrics to Legally Blonde, is also collaborating with Duncan Sheik on Because of Winn Dixie, which begins April 8 at the Delaware Theatre Company; as well as the Jerry Mitchell-helmed musical Gotta Dance; a stage adaptation of the presidential film "Dave" along with Tom Kitt and Thomas Meehan; and an original musical with her husband, and Legally Blonde collaborator Laurence O'Keefe, which will play the Williamstown Theatre Festival this summer.