Be More Chill Moves to Broadway

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Be More Chill Moves to Broadway

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Broadway World
Jason Tam as the S.Q.U.I.P. entering the stage.

What if popularity came in a pill? For Jeremy Heere, that thought was beyond his hopes and dreams. He was a high school loser, someone with no self-confidence and was being picked on by the school bully for as long as he could think. The only grace in his life at that time was his best friend, Michael Mell, and the girl of his dreams, Christina Caniglia. Little did he know that Rich Goranski, the high school bully, would be his saving grace. The boy would tell Jeremy about the S.Q.U.I.P. – Super Quantum Unit Intel Processor – something that Jeremy thought would change the course of his life for the better. But oh how wrong he was.  Everything started out great. Jeremy’s popularity soared in an instant as soon as he his S.Q.U.I.P. had implanted itself in his brain. While they – Jeremy and his S.Q.U.I.P. – choose not to go straight for Christine, Jeremy did score dates with the most popular girls in the school: Brooke, and Chloe. However, all of it was just to get Christine to notice him. Little did he know the popularity was not going to the downfall of his life he once knew.

George Salazar pictured as Michael Mell during a 2015 off-Broadway production.

As Halloween comes around once again – as it does in several other great musicals – the S.Q.U.I.P. has convinced Jeremy that this, being the biggest party of the year, is a must do if he wants a chance to impress Christine. Jeremy, being who he is, brings Michael along. However, Jeremy’s motives were not in the favor of Michael and soon abandoned the other male to spend the time with Brooke Lohst. This is when Michael, who has taken refuge in the bathroom of the home, begins to realize Jeremy’s actual motives and the – arguably best song in the musical – Michael in the Bathroom begins.

While all of this is occurring, Rich’s S.Q.U.I.P. goes haywire and causes his to set fire to the

house that the party is taking place within. The follow-up to this event brings to light the reality of a teenage mindset and how quickly rumors can spread amongst the fellow peers. This song is summed up within the song The Smartphone HourWithin the song, Jenna Roland starts the by calling Chloe saying that Rich’s actions were the result of alcohol consumption at the party. Chloe makes a quick retort that

Maria Baranova
Gerard Canonico as Rich within the Off-Broadway production of Be More Chill.

Rich “shouldn’t drink so much for a small guy” only to find out from Jenna that Rich “had barely touched a drop” meaning “that [they couldn’t] blame the things he did on alcohol.” This trend continues on with Chloe spreading this news to Brooke. The news of the event takes flight from there with the mass of people within the song talking, tweeting and texting about what they believed had happened. As the song ends, the students within the song list off a number of situations that believed happened. These being “When Rich set a fire and he burned the house down. When Rich set a fire and he leveled the town. When Rich set a fire and he fled to Bombay. When Rich set a fire ’cause he knew he was gay. When Rich set a fire and he melted his head. When Rich set a fire and he’s totally dead. When Rich set a fire and he burned down the house!” Showing just how fast and incorrect rumors within the high school scene can become.

Jeremy goes on to realize just how bad of an idea the S.Q.U.I.P. really was when it began to take over several of the other students within the school play in an effort to make Christine fall for Jeremy. When all else fails, the S.Q.U.I.P. chooses to take over Christine claiming to have only removed her “fears and insecurities.” Jeremy looked past this mask and choose to force her to drink the Mountain Dew Code Red anyway. The only way to stop the S.Q.U.I.P.’s evil plan.

Once the S.Q.U.I.P. has been defeated things go back to normal, or as normal as things can get. Throughout the whole experience, Jeremy learned that it was okay to be insecure, however, to live happily you must be able to push past it. This lesson I feel many people, both within the high school scene and within daily life, need to learn. The musical concludes with the song Voices in My Head where Jeremy scores a date with Christine and befriends many of the people who went through the traumatic S.Q.U.I.P. event with him.

Two River Theater in New Jersey.

The original musical premiered in 2015 at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey. No one knew at the time that this musical would go on to be the sensation it is today, or that it would be moved to a Broadway production. However, with the move, some of the original cast members would not be traveling along for the ride. The biggest change being the performer for Jeremy Heree. Within the original musical, Jeremy was portrayed by Will Connolly. Within the Broadway production, Will Roland will take the stage. Nevertheless, many of the original performers have stayed to take on this new adventure. George Salazar, who plays as Michael Mell, as been with the musical from its premiere in New Jersey. Along with George, Stephanie Hsu (Christine), Katlyn Carlson (Chloe), Lauren Marcus (Brooke), and Gerard Canonico (Rich) have chosen to continue into the new territory that awaits.
Be More Chill the Novel by Ned Vizzini

The original idea for the musical came from a book published in 2004 by Ned Vizzini. The concept laid the foundation for the musical’s beginning. However, at least in my opinion, the book’s twist on the subject was not to the greatness of that in which the musical portrayed. The musical portrayed an underlying level of diversity that was not directly present in the book. I believed that the book was not to the level in which the musical was. This, not only for the poor structure of the book but was also a result of the lack of a clear ending. While the book did have a ‘conclusion’, it was not an ordinary one and certainly not one that many people appreciated. The book ends with Vizzini telling the readers that if they wanted more information about the S.Q.U.I.P. that they should “Google it.”

All-in-all the musical, and book to an extent, has given us a lot of insight into the insecurities and issues every high schooler faces within their journey to find themselves. It always many to see that no matter how good a solution seems, there will always be downfalls and you need to be ready for them. It all depends on you and your ability to realize just how strong you are.

Images of the Broadway cast for the Be More Chill musical. Starting in the top left: George Salazar (Michael Mell), Will Roland (Jeremy Heere), Stephanie Hsu (Christine Canigula), Gerard Canonico (Rich Goranski), Jason Tam (The S.Q.U.I.P.), Britton Smith (Jake Dillinger), Tiffany Mann (Jenna Roland), Katlyn Carlson (Chloe Valentine), Lauren Marcus (Brooke Lohst).

Images of the Original Cast for the Be More Chill musical. Starting in the top left: George Salazar (Michael Mell), Will Connolly (Jeremy Heere), Stephanie Hsu (Christine Canigula), Gerard Canonico (Rich Goranski), Eric William Morris (The S.Q.U.I.P.), Jake Boyd (Jake Dillinger), Katie Ladner (Jenna Roland), Katlyn Carlson (Chloe Valentine), Lauren Marcus (Brooke Lohst).

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