Home » Mean Girls composer Jeff Richmond on upcoming film adaptation – The Hollywood Reporter

Mean Girls composer Jeff Richmond on upcoming film adaptation – The Hollywood Reporter

by Stewart Cole

This January, Bad GirlsThe national tour opened in Los Angeles, bringing the cult classic teen comedy to life on the Pantages stage.

At the premiere of the show in LA, the audience was dressed in pink clothes and Bad Girls merchandise, while visitors like the producer and Saturday night live creative Lorne Michaels also attended. Based on the original screenplay and book by the Emmy Award winner Tina Fey, Bad Girls follows the same story of new kid in town Cady Heron as she navigates the vicious world of high school suburbia – a place led by ruthless plastic surgeons and their queen bee Regina George.

Ahead of the show’s final weekend at the Pantages, The Hollywood Reporter agreed with the composer of the musical Jeff Richmondalong with current cast members to discuss the upcoming musical adaptation of the film, Richmond’s working relationship with his wife Faye, and how the show is breaking down barriers to Broadway’s diversity.”

For Richmond, the journey to acquisition Bad Girls on a Broadway stage began by acquiring the rights.

“Tina and I have always talked for years about trying to do a musical,” Richmond says of his wife and creative partner Faye. “[Mean Girls] people seemed to be interested and were asking about it, asking us if we were ever interested in doing a musical. Because we’re so close to Lorne and he’s the one who would have to give us the rights to it, we just said, “Let’s shoot for it.” And by God, we’re able to get the rights to the movie that Tina wrote.”

And so with its stage adaptation Bad Girls, the Emmy-winning television composer found his way back to his musical theater roots. During his career, Richmond composed for shows such as 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Saturday night live and Girls5Eva. Before that, he started out as a musical theater major in college, where he wrote many musicals and compositions.

Casey Nicholaw, Tina Fey, Jeff-Richmond, Nell Benjamin

Jenny Anderson

After debuting in 2017 and closing its Broadway run in 2020, Bad Girls is back and running for its US tour, just in time for the continued development of the film adaptation of the musical. “I trust everyone we’ve built and the production company, they really care about it,” Richmond says of his current involvement with the show and the Broadway tour. “We have such good management on the road and people take care of it. Right now, the day-to-day is more about the film adaptation we’re working on.”

In 2020, it was announced that Lorne Michaels and Paramount Pictures they planned to adapt the musical version of the story into a film. Michaels will return to produce, with Fey penning the script for the adaptation. Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. are set to direct, while Richmond and lyricist Nell Benjamin will also return to work on the film’s score. It was also recently announced that Angourie Rice, Auli’i Cravalho, Jaquel Spivey and Reneé Rapp will star.

“We’re super into it,” Richmond says. “That’s what we’re trying to do [with the movie] is to take the score that sounds like a Broadway score — in a good way — and [give] the film a fresher palette. To make it sound more like something you want to hear on Spotify, as opposed to when you’re sitting in the eighth row in the center at a Broadway theater or the Pantages. It kind of makes it a fresher, younger take on the whole thing. We kind of reinvented the score for the movie, so it’s really fun.”

Adds Nadina Hassan, who plays Regina on the tour, “We’re one of the few girls who play these roles professionally and at this level, and that’s a great blessing. Because now, when the movie comes out, what we did will be shared with so many other people who maybe didn’t get to see us on tour or couldn’t go see the Broadway cast. I always feel so lucky to just be a part of that legacy.”

After working together for the past three decades, Richmond and Fay have mastered the art of working together, not to mention their most important collaboration – their family. “Don’t forget our children,” he laughs. “We worked together for our kids and our dogs.” As for the collaboration on the musical, Richmond says it “couldn’t be better.”

“We know when to get away from each other when we work together,” adds the composer. “Like who gets that part? Who does this? Who should push harder to complete the script for this? We’re just around each other all the time. Same office, all the time. He’s a hilariously fun person to be around.”

Mean Girls Stage

Bad Girls

Jenny Anderson

The stage adaptation has also made significant strides in diverse representation, casting people of color in each of the lead roles.

“I saw the musical when it opened on Broadway,” recalls Jasmine Rogers, who plays Gretchen. “I saw almost the entire original cast and I was lucky to see Ashley De La Rosa, who is Afro-Latina playing Regina that night. I have to see her too [Ashley Park who played Gretchen]and that was really, really cool.”

With three colored women playing the Plastics to the stream Bad Girls tour, Hassan emphasizes the importance of breaking down barriers on Broadway. “Growing up and going through college while the show was coming out, you didn’t see that many people of color in those lead roles,” she explains. “So to play Regina now is really cool and it’s something I never expected. All three of us have broken down different barriers in these roles, which is pretty amazing.”

From movie to musical to movie musical, Bad Girls has become a classic teen cult classic, with lines like “So fetch!” and “You can’t sit with us” firmly established themselves as fixtures in early 2000s pop culture. Nearly 20 years after the original film was released, audiences are still finding their way back to it.

“Tina talks about it all the time,” Richmond says of the show’s impact across generations. “It was a new one Bad Girls for each returning generation. You put everything back into the original movie, but suddenly, there’s another kind of version and now a movie.”

“I think part of it is that Tina Fey is hilarious,” adds Morgan Ashley Bryant, who plays Karen on the show. “He wrote some super iconic lines that I think will probably stand the test of time. But I also think the core values ​​of the story are to get rid of all the extra mess and support each other as women, which is why I think so many women and young girls resonate with the story.”

The Los Angeles series Bad Girls ends this coming weekend on Sunday January 29th. Immediately after, the tour heads to San Francisco from January 31st to February 26th, followed by a weeklong stop in San Diego and a final California stop in Costa Mesa from March 7th to March 19th. Tickets for upcoming shows can be purchased online.

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