Isn't that headline just the most fetch news you've heard this month?! Yes, Ms. Norbury herself is reviving "Mean Girls," and she's relying heavily on D.C. audiences to tell her what needs to be changed, as her movie-turned-musical begins previews in D.C. on October 31 before it hits the Broadway stage next March.
"So much of what the out of town preview experience is about for us, is education," said Tina Fey, who has written the book for the Broadway version of the first (and only) movie she wrote. "D.C. is a great place for us to be because it's a smart town. Because there is a real theater-going audience here, I want to see what someone who has never seen the movie thinks."
For a woman with nine Emmys, two Golden Globe Awards, five Screen Actors Guild Awards, four Writers Guild of America Awards and who was the youngest recipient ever of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, it has got to be a weird feeling to be the rookie in the room. But for Fey's first foray into the Broadway waters, she has shrewdly surrounded herself with an A+ team. Between director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw who won a Tony for Best Direction of a Musical in "The Book of Mormon" and for his choreography in "Something Rotten" to Tony-nominated lyricist Nell Benjamin who co-wrote the score to Broadway's "Legally Blonde" and Fey's composer/songwriter/producer hubby Jeff Richmond who also has three Emmys under his belt from "30 Rock" and penned the score for Broadway's "Fully Committed," Fey has no shortage of talent to lean on as she attempts to transition her 2004 fan favorite from screen to stage.
"I grew up a theater nerd, and this seemed like the only way I'd ever be able to get my name in a playbill, because I don't have enough talent in any other arena," said Fey, displaying her signature self-deprecating humor right off the bat.
The adaptation seed was actually planted in Fey's head by her husband, who has a background in musical theater and had been wanting to find a way to utilize his time in New York to get back into theater. He felt "Mean Girls" had enough strong, interesting characters to carry a stage, so they approached the studio and decided to give it a go. Of course, there are always challenges when you adapt a project that is already beloved by an audience.
"You definitely want fans of the movie to feel like they got what they wanted out of the experience, but you also really, really want to make sure someone who has never seen the movie likes the show, and relates to it," said Fey. "Hopefully the regular theater-going audience will trust us and come see it and know that they will be told a story that’s not just a transcript of the movie."
Fey's team does not seem worried that fans of the movie will leave disappointed; they feel confident they've struck a balance between making something that can stand on its own as a new creation, without cheating existing fans out of their expectations.
"It's a funny thing, because people do expect certain things, but I think if you just really entertain them, they aren't going to realize what was missing until they get home," said Nicholaw. "You just have to tell the story -- tell it stage-worthy -- and make sure they are entertained."
Inevitably, specific lines and plot points get dropped when adapting any project for a new medium (spoiler alert: I was told "Boo, you whore!" did not make the cut in the musical version, and I'm totally crushed), but at the same time audiences have the addition of song and dance to look forward to.
"There are so many moments in this story that could be songs, that we really have to pick and choose what to use," said Richmond. "That's the hardest part of a musical. There's only so much real estate for songs, so they really need to move the plot along and have something that makes them unique in and of themselves."
According to Nicholaw, each character gets to sing on their own, and have their moment, which he feels helps audiences deepen their connection to a character.
For die-hard fans of the movie, you'll have to see if you can spot the real Glen Coco in the audience, as it turns out he is a D.C. resident and when Fey asked if he was going to be at the show, he replied "If I can get tickets."
"I said, you're Glen Coco man -- of course you get tickets," laughed Fey.
Mean Girls is running at the National Theatre October 31- December 3; 1321 Pennsylvania Ave NW; tickets start at $48.