Magazine article Variety

Theater Goes to Cruel School

Magazine article Variety

Theater Goes to Cruel School

Article excerpt


A trio of projects centered on high-school bad girls insinuate their way toward the Main Stem

Call it Mean Teen Screen Queens - the musical!

A cutthroat clique of Hollywood high school tales is moving from the bigscreen to the stage, with "Heathers" in the midst of a short initial run in Los Angeles, "Jawbreaker" coming off a Gotham workshop, and "Mean Girls" recently announced as a brewing legit project.

That's a lot of queen-bee black comedy all at once. And why now? It's not lost on anyone C involved in these projects that adolescent bullying, now amplified by social media in ways that could never have been imagined back when "Heathers" was released in 1988, has only grown in the public eye as cause for concern.

Besides, the overflowing emotions and high-stakes drama of adolescence are exactly the kinds of things that makes stage characters sing.

"High school is a natural place to set a musical, because it's such a heightened world to begin with," says Darren Stein, who penned the "Jawbreaker" book based on the 1999 pic he wrote and directed.

As sharp-edged comedies, the trio of titles - particularly "Heathers" and "Jawbreaker" - are already stylized takes on the slang and squabbles of teen life, and that storytelling approach also makes them good fodder for tuners.

"Some of the moments that are so memorable in the movie ?Heathers' from a language standpoint - lines like, ?I love my dead gay son' - also prove to be great starting points for a song," says Andy Fickman, the stage and film helmer ("Parental Guidance," "Reefer Madness"). He directed the musical version of "Heathers" at the Hudson Backstage Theater, whose run just ended Oct. 13.

Of the three projects, "Mean Girls" is in the earliest stages, with initial word of the musical version recently trickling out from Tina Fey (who wrote the screenplay and appeared in the movie) and Jeffrey Richmond, the "30 Rock" composer (and Fey's husband) who is at work on the score. …

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