Is There a Musical in the New Mean Girls Film? What to anticipate from the Broadway version when it opens in theaters

The new ‘Mean Girls’ adaptation is coming to theaters on Jan. 12, 2024

Bebe Wood plays Gretchen, Renee Rapp plays Regina and Avantika plays Karen in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures.
Bebe Wood plays Gretchen, Renee Rapp plays Regina and Avantika plays Karen in ‘Mean Girls.’. Photo:Jojo Whilden/Paramount

The new Mean Girls adaptation is aspiring to be as “fetch” as the original.

Mean Girls, the 2024 version, was announced as an adaptation of the hit Broadway show of the same name in January 2020, with original star and writer Tina Fey writing the script and producing again, per Deadline.

In December 2022, the cast was announced, including Senior Year actress Angourie Rice taking on Cady Heron, the lead originally played by Lindsay Lohan, and Reneé Rapp reprising her role from the Broadway show as Cady’s nemesis Regina George. Fey would also reprise the same role she played in the original movie nearly 20 years ago.

However, after the teaser trailer for the highly anticipated film dropped — sans a single song — in November 2023, fans had a few questions. Mainly, where was all the music?

From how much singing will be featured to how it will differ from the original production, here’s everything to know about the upcoming Mean Girls movie.

Yes, Mean Girls is a musical

Jaquel Spivey plays Damian, Angourie Rice plays Cady and Auli'i Cravalho plays Janis in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures.
Jaquel Spivey plays Damian, Angourie Rice plays Cady and Auli’i Cravalho plays Janis in ‘Mean Girls’.Jojo Whilden/Paramount

The new Mean Girls is indeed a musical and will include songs from the original Broadway show.

“This is a very specific version of the musical that has a really specific place in a niche, culty theater way, that I think expands it to maybe people who aren’t super into theater,” Rapp told PEOPLE in April 2023.

Rapp also praised Fey, who wrote both movie iterations and the book for the Broadway show.

“Tina and our whole team just does such an amazing job adapting it, and the whole cast is really young and very cool,” she said.

No, it’s not a remake

Tina Fey plays Ms. Norbury in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures.
Tina Fey plays ‘Ms. Norbury’ in ‘Mean Girls.’.Jojo Whilden/Paramount

Though the new movie is based on the original 2004 film, it’s not a direct remake, according to producer Lorne Michaels.

“It isn’t a remake, it’s a new interpretation,” he told Entertainment Weekly in December 2023. “It feels like a familiar enough story, but it’s for today.”

Tony Award-nominee Jaquel Spivey, who plays Damian, added that the goal wasn’t to recreate the iconic movie, but rather, to make a modern-day take.

“We love it so much that we’re going to make something fresh, because we can’t recreate it — it’s too iconic,” Spivey said.

“On set, we would say, ‘We want to uphold the sacred text,’ but also have it feel new and fresh because it is something different. It’s another take on it,” director Samantha Jayne added.

One way they made changes was to make the movie much more inclusive, including a more diverse cast and characters. “Representation is extremely important,” Jayne said. “To be able to see yourself reflected on screen is everything, so we wanted our actors to bring themselves to this role in every way possible.”

Was there singing in the trailer?

Mean Girls | Official Trailer
Renee Rapp as Regina George in the ‘Mean Girls’ trailer.Paramount Pictures/YouTube

When the teaser trailer first came out, the only song that could be heard was head mean girl Regina George’s introduction to herself in “Meet the Plastics.” But the real confusing moment hit when the full trailer was released, and not a single song was played. Instead, the trailer was set to Olivia Rodrigo’s “get him back!”

Fans posted about their confusion online, with one person on X writing, “if i was making a trailer of the broadway version of a show i would simply include the music so ppl know it is not just a remake.”

Another person on X wrote, “I’m surprised the trailer doesn’t feature any aspect of this being a musical, since u know, that’s the main difference in this version.”

How much singing will be in the movie?

Busy Philipps plays Mrs. George in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures.
Busy Philipps plays Mrs. George in ”Mean Girls.’.Jojo Whilden/Paramount

Apple Music has the Mean Girls soundtrack available for pre-order and features 13 tracks, though the names have yet to be revealed other than Rapp’s collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, “Not My Fault,” which is presumed to be the credit song. However, the original Broadway show has 21 tracks.

While naturally, not all 21 made the cut, the 12 other tracks in the film may not be from the Broadway show either. Fey’s husband, Jeff Richmond, composed the movie and told Entertainment Weekly that some of the songs were original.

“People doing bedroom pop is very popular, basically producing all their songs in the bedroom,” Richmond said. “So that was our initial approach, but I wanted to bend the songs a little bit more to sound like radio hits, so we were changing the palette from Broadway to radio.”

To that end, every main character — except for Chris Briney’s Aaron Samuels — does sing, and just like in the Broadway show, Cady’s narration will be replaced by music.

What are the differences between the Broadway show and the movie?

Renee Rapp in mean girls on broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus
Renee Rapp in ‘Mean Girls’ on Broadway. Joan Marcus

One of the main differences, to start, is the run times of each. Where the Broadway show is around two hours and 30 minutes, the movie comes in at just five minutes under two hours. The number of songs has also been cut nearly in half.

However, one thing that will remain the same is Janis and Damian, played by Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho and Spivey respectively, will narrate the story — which is different from the original movie.

“Something that [directors] Sam and Art said that I was astounded by was, ‘What if Janis and Damian directed their own high school experience?’ ” Bebe Wood, who plays Gretchen Weiners, told EW.

Why aren’t studios marketing movies as musicals?

Mean Girls 2024
Angourie Rice as Cady in the trailer for ‘Mean Girls.’.Paramount Pictures

Even though Fey and the cast have set the record straight on Mean Girls being a musical, the question remains of why it’s not being marketed as such. It’s also not the only movie musical to experience this — Wonka, Leo and The Color Purple are all December 2023 releases that were not explicitly marketed as musicals.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that studios are shying away from promoting musicals because of the negative connotations or perceptions that may be associated with them, such as every word being sung.

“If you spell out the word musical, people have pre-formed opinions. Musical has a connotation that [characters] are going to sing every word, and audiences can be turned off,” one studio marketer told the outlet.

Per Deadline, test-audience focus groups have been found to “generally hate” musicals, and studios have found that the only way to get audiences through the doors to see one is to conceal exactly how much singing will be involved.

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