THIS REVIEW WILL BE MAJOR-SPOILER FREE – NO IMPORTANT PLOT POINTS WILL BE REVEALED
If you’re an attentive member of the musical theatre community on tumblr, you may have recently noticed a multitude of posts about a certain musical; Be More Chill. The show has received a surge of attention over the past month, despite it having closed in 2015. This might be acredited to many listeners likening the show to the nine-time-Tony award nominee Dear Evan Hansen, or the fact that supporting actor, George Salazar, has been gaining recognition from his role of Grover Underwood in the recent off-Broadway hit The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.
The Be More Chill fanbase has grown so dramatically in such a short amount of time, that people are already likening it to fan-favourites such as Heathers: The Musical, and Dear Evan Hansen.
I decided to listen to the cast recording to see if the tidal wave of good reviews were true.
(Spoiler alert: they were)
Be More Chill is a contemporary musical adapted from Ned Vizzini’s 2004 sci-fi novel of the same name. The story follows Jeremy Heere, resident high school loser, who purchases ‘squip’ – a pill containing a quantum computer that communicates with the brain to make the consumer cooler. The musical was written by Joe Iconis (music and lyrics) and Joe Tracz (book).
The energy that was conveyed through just the cast recording completely overwhelmed me – every aspect of this musical is dynamic, animated and resonating. Whilst the solos were pure gold in themselves; the ensemble numbers blew me away. It’s not often that you come across a show that has such a firm understanding of its impact on their audience. Be More Chill sustains its enthusiasm from the first moment, ’til the curtain call.
The score is exquisitely composed, right down to the point where certain key motifs struck fear into my heart. Iconcis and Tracz clearly understand what this story boils down to – friendship, and individuality – and are even able to shed light on characters who weren’t as prominent in the book.
One of these character’s is Jeremy’s best friend, Michael, a fan favourite, and for good reason. Michael is played by George Salazar, who possesses an acute awareness of his character’s mind. His solo ballad, ‘Michael in the Bathroom’ is the fan-nominated song of the show – and, admittedly, an all time favourite of mine.
Salazar, along with co-star Will Connolly who plays Jeremy, have been praised for their on-stage relationship; Michael and Jeremy have become something of a notorious couple seemingly overnight – with their duet ‘Two Player Game’ (as well as ‘Michael in the Bathroom’) generating dozens of artwork and animatics in the space of less than a month.
Stephanie Hsu – who played Christine, Jeremy’s main love interest – has enchanting vocals. Her singing is the epitome of her character, proving once more that the casting for this show was absolutely impeccable. These astoundingly talented actors and actresses are experts in conveying the human relationships of the teens they portray. This is what sets Be More Chill aside from other Young-Adult-Orientated musicals; their complex character relationships heighten the experience and make the show altogether more realistic.
Be More Chill exceeded every possible expectation I could have possibly had. The high energy, expertly composed and well-thought out nature of the show brought something fresh and rejuvenated to my playlists. This musical is certainly living up to its sudden hype – Be More Chill is here to stay.
You can listen to the original cast recording on Spotify, Apple Music, and other selected music platforms. Or you could purchase a hard copy here.