I Can’t Stop Listening to Be More Chill, so Please Everyone Go See It so I’m Not Alone
I’m the kind of person who goes into a musical and either goes headfirst into it and can’t get enough, or I just think it’s fun and leave without really wanting to listen to the cast recording again. It’s my burden as a musical theatre geek—one that I have carried my entire life.
So, to say that I am late to the party with Be More Chill may be the understatement of my lifetime, but here I am to right my wrong and tell the world that they need to go see this Joe Iconis masterpiece.
Focusing on Jeremy Heere, a high school boy who wants a girl named Christine to like him so he can finally be one of the popular kids, Be More Chill speaks to those of us who were the “losers, geeks, or whatever” growing up. Will Roland, who stars as Jeremy, is a treat to watch and relate to. Maybe not everyone was a video game-playing teenage boy, but many of us had that very human feeling of being left out of the party, even if we were the “popular” kids.
High school is hell—we all know that—but Be More Chill brings that narrative to life in a fun and new way. The story goes like this: Jeremy wants to be cool, so Rich, one of the “popular” kids, tells Jeremy about a pill that he can take that will make him cool. A Squip, which is a long gray pill from Japan, implants in your brain and tells you what to do to be cool.
Basically, a Squip is a tiny computer that will take the form, in your mind, of whatever you want, so Jeremy, in a completely relatable moment, sees his as Keanu Reeves. (At the show, you can write your own Squip on the board, and there was a surprising amount of Danny Devito on the wall, but … I get that.)
Jeremy has a best friend, Michael, the only one who was there for him throughout their childhood, and when his Squip becomes activated, it renders Jeremy physically unable to see Michael, because he thinks that Michael will only bring Jeremy down. So their relationship becomes tense, and when Jeremy’s Squip is shut off, he can finally see Michael again and thinks that Michael is jealous of his Squip.
This results in Jeremy calling Michael a loser and, in probably my favorite number in the show, Michael is trapped in the bathroom alone and can’t be freed.
The Squip continues to control Jeremy’s emotions and actions (which makes Will Roland appear in tight jeans and a bomber jacket, and I truly gasped aloud in the theater), but throughout it all, Jeremy succumbs to its whims, unaware of the Squip master plan that led to Rich burning down their friend’s house in an effort to not listen to what his Squip was telling him to do.
Jeremy isn’t that lucky. He lets his Squip convince him to give everyone their own Squips, and it takes Christine being in trouble (and the help of Michael and Jeremy’s father) for them all to destroy the Squips.
In the end, the show brings up the idea that we all understand that feeling of being alone—being the outsider looking in, even if we were “popular.” Sure, maybe you were the quarterback and were popular, or maybe you were a geek like the rest of us in high school, but this show points out that everyone has their faults and that trying to be “cool” isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.
Be More Chill is currently still in previews and opens on Broadway on March 10th, 2019. Also … Christine’s Squip is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and how relatable is that!?
(image: Screengrab from YouTube)
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