'Be More Chill' is the Coolest Musical on Broadway
It’s time to get more hyped for Be More Chill.
There’s no denying Be More Chill’s charming enthusiasm—its talented ensemble of high-energy performers come at you faster than an overzealous toddler that ate one too many bowls of Captain Crunch (or took a Top Secret dose of Squip while chugging a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew when you weren’t looking).
The little-musical-that-could developed a cult-like and viral following that isn’t slowing down anytime soon. According to Deadline, Be More Chill was a success before it opened for its Off-Broadway run at the Signature Theatre in 2018. The show received additional positive buzz since making the bold move to play with the big dogs on Broadway, receiving a Tony nomination for its original score. The crowd inside the bustling Lyceum Theatre on June 6 was packed with vocal teenagers and young adults who screamed and hollered at the end of every musical number, eagerly anticipating the next. Even long-time jaded parents, most likely there to chaperone their kids, couldn’t help but crack smiles at all of the clever ditties.
Be More Chill is based on the novel by Ned Vizzini, and Joe Tracz put together the Broadway show’s book. The story sees Jeremy Heere (Will Roland) struggling to fit in at his high school. Jeremy loves his video games, and has a hard time talking to girls his age. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is—the feeling of not fitting in is so widely and tirelessly used because it’s one of the most relatable tropes in film, literature, and theatre.
Jeremy’s best friend, Michael Mell (George Salazar), is the only one that truly understands him on a deeper level. Jeremy’s semi-depressed, bathrobe-wearing, pants-forgoing father (Jason Sweettooth Williams) tries his best to form a bond with his son, but is going through problems of his own with his estranged wife. With these relationships forming the base of the story, Jeremy starts crushing hard on nerdy, theatre-loving Christine Canigula (Stephanie Hsu). In order to win Christine’s love and compete with the popular kids like Jake Dillinger (Britton Smith) and Jenna Rolan (Tiffany Mann), Jeremy seeks out a super-computer pill from Japan called Squip.
After learning about Squip from Rich Goranski (Gerard Canonico), Jeremy makes a heavy cash investment and pops the untested pill—and that’s when Be More Chill really kicks into second gear. We are introduced to The Squip (Jason Tam), and he becomes the voice inside Jeremy’s forever confused head. Tam’s performance as Jeremy’s personal devil’s advocate is memorable, and just flat out cool. Donning an Eminem shirt and losing the glasses (at the advice of The Squip), Jeremy gains the favor of the popular crowd. Picking up hotties Brooke Lohst and Chloe Valentine (Lauren Marcus and Katlyn Carlson) along the way, Jeremy’s new attitude makes him predictably less cool to his once-best-friend Michael and main love-interest, Christine. Several antics later (including a hopping Halloween Party and a potential human takeover by Squip), Jeremy realizes that he never needed to take Squip in order for people to like him. All he needed was self-confidence, and just a drop of Mountain Dew Code Red.
You won’t find classic songs of the 60s here. Ain’t Too Proud and Jersey Boys already covered that ground. King Kong can impress with stunning visuals. What you will find in Be More Chill is music that simply feels wildly fresh and organic. Be More Chill ‘s music and lyrics are a major selling point of the show, and for good reason. Joe Iconis put together an iconic soundtrack that will leave attendees humming the show tunes on their way back to the subway. “Michael in the Bathroom” is going to be an audition song for aspiring actors for decades to come. Veteran casting directors better get used to it.
Music & Mojitos left Be More Chill grinning from ear-to-ear. The show’s storyline might not be groundbreaking, but it doesn’t need to be. The performances from the entire cast are jam packed with a constant flow of endless energy and determination to entertain. The colorful costumes, impressive choreography, and vibrant set are a delightful visual buffet, and Be More Chill’s ensemble certainly gets the crowd roaring the whole way through. Hsu’s delivery of “I Love Play Rehearsal” will inspire future generations to enter show business, Canonico’s “The Squip Song” gets you pumped for the rest of the drama to unfold, while Mann’s belting in “The Smartphone Hour (Rich Set a Fire)” is a star-making performance that will blow you away.
Rooting for the underdog has never been more fun. Be More Chill winds up being a breezy romp that reminds us all that being different is totally cool. You don’t have to pop pills to enjoy the message, and heart, of the show.
You can purchase tickets to see Be More Chill HERE.
Banner photo by Maria Baranova.