On April 30, 2004, comedian Tina Fey graced the world with easily one of the most quotable and memorable movies ever: “Mean Girls”.
The story revolves around new student, Cady Heron, as she navigates through high school and gets tangled up with The Plastics, the most popular girls in school. The premise is a simple one, but the lasting effect the movie has had on teens and adults alike are unprecedented.
It’s been 13 years since “Mean Girls” was first released in theaters, and now, the story is taking the next step towards immortalization; “Mean Girls” is becoming a Broadway musical. Premiering at the National Theater in Washington, D.C. from Oct. 31 to Dec. 3, devoted fans of the movie have lined up to buy tickets and experience the story once more. With Tina Fey back on the project as a playwright, the musical is said to be true to its source material and follow the same story as the beloved movie.
“Mean Girls” came out at a time where teen movies were plentiful: the early 2000s. What set “Mean Girls” apart and shot it to stardom was the clever writing, wit, charm, and relatability Fey injected into the movie. The film was so well received, it practically created the careers of Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried. The impact the film has had on classic teen movies can be seen nearly every October 3rd. So, why is “Mean Girls” moving to Broadway?
To look forward, we have to go back. To 1989, exactly. The box office flop “Heathers” just premiered in theaters to an underwhelming $1.1 million. The movie was cast aside as too dark, too satirical, too teenager. Not for Tina Fey. When creating her magnum opus, “Mean Girls”, Fey took heavy inspiration from “Heathers” when it came to story, characters, and overall tone. Her movie was a success, raking in $129 million. At the time of “Mean Girls”, “Heathers” was not very popular. But, as the 2010’s have continued, more light has come to the dark comedy genius of “Heathers”. So much so, that the now cult classic film had its off-Broadway run in 2014 to critical, and viewer, praise. After that, “Heathers” shot to fame and it’s now hard to find a teenager who doesn’t recognize the phrase, “What’s your damage?”.
If a poorly received movie can become even more popular after a Broadway run, think of how popular a well received movie can become after Broadway release. As mentioned, it’s been over a decade since “Mean Girls” came out, and as time progresses, it’s inevitable that the movie will become less popular. Though quotes are thrown about and references made quite frequently, “Mean Girls” has become less recognizable, especially for those born after its release. A whole new wave of tweens are now in need of a relatable teen movie, no, a teen musical.
Teen musicals have hit a surge of popularity over the last 10 years. With titles like “Legally Blonde: The Musical”, “Heathers”, “Be More Chill”, and “The Lightning Thief”, gracing stages on and off Broadway, teen movies and well-known books are transforming into the next form of media: musicals. Recently, musicals have been doing very well. A new Broadway Renaissance has occurred, and theater is no longer just for the wealthy. It’s a smart economic move for teen stories to become a part of live theater. “Mean Girls” is no exception.
Broadway has become a sort of “next step” for classic stories. The progression now goes: classic story/book into movie into musical. Most musicals on Broadway are based on one or more well-known tales. “Wicked” is from both the book “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire and “The Wizard of Oz”. “The Phantom of the Opera” is the same deal. Book into movie into timeless musical. The story of Bonnie and Clyde was adapted into a musical in 2009, and nearly all Disney princess movies are set to the same. “The Little Mermaid”, “Aladdin”, and “Mary Poppins” have all been given the Broadway treatment. In a way, making those stories into a musical that children and teens can see and experience live as opposed to on a screen, makes them that much more ageless. Is this the thought behind “Mean Girls”?
While it’s clear to see the impact left in the wake of “Mean Girls”, it’s easy to understand why the story is now becoming a Broadway musical. It’s the same reason the Plastics stayed in power for so long: popularity. As musicals are becoming the new normal for stories to transition into, “Mean Girls” is ready to jump on board. Fans are ready, too.
Nearly all dates for its preview in Washington, D.C. are sold out, and many shows during its Broadway run, not until March of 2018, are sold out as well. “Mean Girls” has become the quintessential teen movie, and hopefully, “Mean Girls: The Musical” will be totally fetch.