NEW YORK — Tina Fey had no idea “Mean Girls” would be timelier today than it was 14 years ago. And that makes her a little uneasy.
“It’s just sort of unfortunate that it does,” the Emmy-winning actress and writer said Sunday at the opening night party for her Broadway adaptation of the 2004 film “Mean Girls.”
“When the movie was written, it was about relational aggression among girls. And now, everyone does that. The government does it. People are unkind. They don’t respect each other’s basic human dignity, and so social media is such a disease, right?” Fey said. “So it feels like it’s an even more-timely reminder now that we all need to just kind of take a breath before we hurt each other.”
Fey wrote the story for the show with her husband, Jeff Richmond, who composed the music. They were asked about the difference between the stage and film versions.
“The core message is the same, but I think nothing pulls it out like singing,” Fey said.
Richmond said you can go to different emotional places through music. “There are other things in a musical that you can’t dig into like you can in the movie. But I think this emotional thing, you certainly can. And I think that that rings true with those moments,” Richmond said.
Like the film, the musical tells the story of a teenage girl who grew up in Africa and ends up in a suburban U.S. high school. There she quickly learns the cruel nature of being popular. Though it’s a comedy, it depicts clique mentalities and the negative effect that has on self-esteem.
Before the opening night performance, a star-studded guest list walked the pink carpet, including Glenn Close, Jerry Seinfeld, Tony Parker, Martin Short, Elle Kemper, Jimmy Fallon, Alec Baldwin, Kate McKinnon and Lorne Michaels.
Kemper, the star of TV’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” said the musical is unfortunately still timely when it comes to bullying, but she’s also optimistic.
“I think the truth of it is unfortunately eternal. You know, people can be catty, they could be mean, but kindness is always going to prevail. That sounds corny, but true,” Kemper said.