Nell Benjamin, Tina Fey and Jeffrey Richmond Penning "Mean Girls" Musical
By Adam Hetrick
Tony Award-nominated Legally Blonde lyricist Nell Benjamin is collaborating with Golden Globe winner Tina Fey and Fey's husband, composer Jeffrey Richmond, on a stage musical adaptation of Fey's 2004 dark comedy film "Mean Girls."
Benjamin, whose play The Explorer's Club recently ended its extended Off-Broadway run at Manhattan Theatre Club, told Playbill.com that the writers are in the early stages of developing "Mean Girls" as a stage musical. Fey is adapting the screenplay for the musical's book, with Richmond penning music and Benjamin writing the lyrics, though Benjamin states that the three will likely share lyrical input during the development.
"It's a great movie," Benjamin told Playbill.com. "It's one of the few movies out there that really kind of does the high school thing from a girl's perspective really well. You can tell it was a labor of love for Tina Fey. Her intelligence shines through the whole thing and it will throughout the whole musical as well. I'm very excited that I'm lucky enough to be working on it."
Benjamin credits her involvement on the project with her successful Tony-nominated Broadway outing on Legally Blonde – both Fey and Richmond are fans of the musical. She also noted that the two films share the central theme of a strong female heroine – something Fey and Benjamin regularly explore in their work.
"One of the things we were really happy to do on Legally Blonde was to turn Vivienne around a bit," Benjamin said, reflecting on the female characters in Legally Blonde turning against one another, which is also a strong theme in "Mean Girls." "It is true - anytime you have an economy of scarcity, the people who should be banding together end up fighting each other. I went to an all-girls school so I experiences certain amounts of psychological warfare growing up," she added with a laugh.
A timeline for a reading is not currently in place. "We are trying to meet periodically; we're not on any kind of time deadline at the moment," Benjamin said. "We've been meeting and working on song ideas and outline ideas. We really want it to just be the best version of that beloved movie that it can be. Obviously, Tina and Jeff are very busy people. We are all having to try to work with our schedules."
Richmond penned music for several episodes of "30 Rock," which was created and written by Fey. In her memoir "Bossy Pants," Fey discussed her early love for musical theatre.
"Mean Girls" was directed by Mark Waters and starred Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried and Fey.
The film centers on Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), who returns to the U.S. from Africa and must adjust to high school life after previously being homeschooled. She soon is forced to decide which social clique to be a part of and finds herself caught in the drama of "The Plastics."
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