A star-studded ensemble has come together to perform Folded Notes From High School, a book set in the ’90s which is told in a series of folded notes that pulls together the correspondence surrounding high school senior Tara Maureen Murphy. Tara is a love-to-hate version of Mean Girls‘ Regina George, and the book traces the chatter around her falling for a freshman who dazzles in an audition for Grease.
Author Matt Boren is a screenwriter and actor based in Los Angeles (he wrote for See Dad Run and recurred as Stuart in How I Met Your Mother), and was able to enlist an impressive group of actors to perform the audiobook version of his high school comedy. EW can exclusively announce that up-and-comer Taylor Spreitler (Kevin Can Wait) will voice the role of Tara, while other students and characters will be performed by the likes of Selma Blair, Scandal‘s Katie Lowes, and Sense8‘s Adam Shapiro. In addition, Christina Applegate will serve as narrator and Boren will voice the role of Christopher.
The full cast list goes as follows:
The audiobook can be pre-ordered here ahead of Folded Notes From High School‘s April 3 release. Boren spoke to EW about how he devised the story for Folded Notes, how he enlisted his dream cast, and more in an exclusive interview. Read on below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Talk a little bit about the inspiration behind this book and how it came to be.
MATT BOREN: I have clinical nostalgia. Is that a thing? If it is, I have it. And I not only remember my formative years living outside of Boston — the tone of the time, the feelings, the music, the smells, and the people — but I also treasure them deeply and they inform so much of my work. The late ’80s and early ’90s were their own thing and I think so many of us find ourselves reflecting back to what was a simpler time in so many respects. No internet meant you had to legitimately research things, albeit for term papers or basic, everyday knowledge. While we all experienced the full spectrum of teenage emotions, there was something a bit more sacred about our interactions with each other. There were rumors, of course — sometimes even trumors (true rumors), but when the bell rang there was a respite from it all. We were kids who tooled around town first on our bikes, then in our cars, and no matter how intense things got — and they got intense (fights in the caf, mailboxes being knocked down, cars getting toilet papered and egged) — we never felt the threat ushered in with the digital age. I wanted to write a book that captured not only that never-again time, but one whose stories were told through the super revealing device of that time — the folded note. We told each other everything in those notes. Everything! They were testimonials and monologues and within our writings we unscrambled our own teenage confusion and angst.
How did you go about casting the audiobook version?
When Listening Library and I decided to cast the audiobook with multiple actors, I was thrilled! The narrative in Folded Notes From High School is told through a lot of characters, so capturing that on tape in a way that felt more cinematic — like The Breakfast Club — made the most sense. From there, my incredible producer Nick Martorelli and I hit the ground running with casting. Prior to the audiobook getting green lit, I had spent months dreaming about who I would ask to play these roles should it happen and — this has never happened for me before and I imagine it might not again — but every actor we asked said Yes! It was a given that Selma Blair — who is brilliantly funny — had to play Stacey Simon because they both have this wonderful heart-on-the-sleeve vibe and if you’ve ever watched Scandal (who hasn’t?) you know that Katie Lowes can say a lot of things passionately and quickly which is exactly what I needed for Pammy Shapiro. And for Tara Maureen Murphy, Stef Campbell and Matt Bloom, I looked no further than three of the most talented young stars around — Taylor Spreitler currently on Kevin Can Wait, Ryan Newman from Nick’s The Thundermans, and Ramy Youssef from Mr. Robot.
Did you expect to attract such big names?
Expect? No. Dreamed? Hoped? Yes! Vision boards, putting forth super concentrated, dream energy [is] very powerful. I recommend it.
Why, specifically, was Christina Applegate the right choice for you as narrator?
Where do I begin? Let’s start with the fact that Christina Applegate is Christina Applegate! She defined a moment in our adolescence and we all had the privilege of growing up with her, making our way into adulthood right alongside her. A few definitive things everyone back in the ’80s/’90s could agree on — Rubik’s Cubes were wicked hard unless you peeled the stickers off and cheated, everyone watched General Hospital even if you pretended you didn’t watch General Hospital, Paula Abdul’s “Rush Rush” video with Keanu Reeves was on repeat, you had tickets for New Kids’ “Magic Summer Tour,” and Sunday nights were spent with Christina Applegate on Married With Children. She was that time so, in my opinion, she was the only option to narrate the story of that time. And yes, mind is still blown that she said Yes.
High school in 1991 obviously has a specific rhythm and sound (and humor). How did you go about writing it, and did you have any specific directions for how you wanted it to sound on audio?
While I can’t remember where I put my keys, wallet or phone, I can recall pretty much everything that happened throughout my childhood in weirdly nuanced ways. I am a writer who let’s story and character tell me what to do. I mean, I’m not like, “Alexa… write my book.” “Okay… writing your book.” But I have some serious writing rules for myself and the conditions have to be just right and with that, I created a space for my teenage self to re-emerge and through him I was able to tap into the world — or my version of the world — as it was back then in my New England town. I could hear these characters talking… I just had to type fast enough. They would wake me up in the middle of the night with the most perfectly crafted phrase or key story twist and I would run to my computer. And because I had everyone in the Folded Notes universe barking at me for a bunch of years, I had a good sense of how it might sound for the audio book.
What do you hope readers take away from this story?
My biggest hope is that the reader will laugh. We could all use a laugh. My dream is that Folded Notes From High School will open dialogue between adults and kids to share their respective coming-of-age experiences and help facilitate a bridge that connects the generations. Perhaps the book can help illustrate the connective tissue all of our stories share. Snap is sort of the new passed note, but I would love nothing more than for the note to have a comeback. Ultimately, that they have a great time reading it and either reminisce about their own experiences back in the day or connect it with the high school moment they are currently in.