Be More Chill
by Music & Lyrics Joe Loonis, Book by Joe Tracz
Be More Chill is a novel published on June 1, 2004 by American author Ned Vizzini. It features a fictional pill named the “SQUIP.” In 2015, a musical adaptation, with a score by Joe Iconis ran at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey and opened at Broadway’s Lyceum Theater with previews from Feb 13, 2019 Opening Night March 10 2019 and Closed Aug 11, 2019 After 30 Previews and 169 Performances . A film adaptation of both the novel and the musical is also in development.
The musical premiered in May 30, 2015 at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey. The production featured Will Connolly as Jeremy, Eric William Morris as the Squip, George Salazar as Michael, and Stephanie Hsu as Christine, as well as Katie Ladner, Lauren Marcus, Jake Boyd, Gerard Canonico, Katlyn Carlson, and Paul Whitty. The musical was commissioned by Two River Theater as part of their new play development program. Be More Chill ran Off-Broadway at the Irene Diamond Stage at the Pershing Square Signature Center. It began previews July 26, 2018, and closed on September 30, 2018. This production featured several original cast members including Hsu, Salazar, Canonico, Carlson, and Marcus reprising their respective roles. New cast members included Will Roland as Jeremy, Jason Tam as the Squip, Britton Smith as Jake, Tiffany Mann as Jenna, and Jason “Sweettooth” Williams as Mr. Heere. On September 5, 2018 it was announced that a Broadway production is planned, with previews beginning at the Lyceum Theatre on February 13, 2019. The Broadway transfer is estimated to cost $9.5 million according to lead producer Jerry Goehring.
Cast Broadway 2019
Jeremy Heere, a high school junior, is a social outcast. He lives with his recently divorced father, who works from home and makes Jeremy uncomfortable by refusing to wear pants in the house. At school, Jeremy is bullied by popular student Rich Goranski, who writes “boyf” on his backpack. At lunch, he meets up with Michael Mell, his best friend (on whose backpack Rich has written “riends”). Michael tries to comfort Jeremy by telling him that being a loser is okay. Jeremy sees his long-time crush Christine Canigula signing up for the school play and decides to sign up as well. Jeremy wonders why he has to be the outcast, and if someone can help him “more than survive” (“More Than Survive”).
As they wait for the first play rehearsal to begin, Christine professes her love of theatre to Jeremy, explaining that she likes being able to play different people and always knowing what to say and do (“I Love Play Rehearsal”). As more popular cast members trickle in, their drama teacher, Mr. Reyes, reveals—to Christine’s horror—that the school play will be A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in a post-apocalyptic future, re-titled “A Midsummer Nightmare (About Zombies)”. During rehearsal, Jake Dillinger, one of the popular boys and Rich’s friend, flirts with Christine, making Jeremy jealous. (“More Than Survive (Reprise 1)”).
After rehearsal, Jeremy is confronted in the bathroom by Rich. Rich tells Jeremy how Rich managed his rise to popularity: as an unpopular freshman, he took a pill called a “super quantum unit intel processor”—a “SQUIP”—containing a computer that implants itself inside the user’s brain and tells the user what to do and say. Rich suggests that Jeremy buy one from him in order to become cooler. (“The Squip Song”).
While playing video games with Michael after school, Jeremy tells him about Rich’s offer; although Michael is convinced that Jeremy is being scammed. After an awkward conversation with his dad (still not wearing pants), Jeremy decides to check the SQUIP out. Jeremy assures Michael that, no matter what happens, they’ll always be a team. (“Two Player Game”).
The two visit the mall to buy the SQUIP from a dealer at Payless ShoeSource. Jeremy, as instructed, swallows it with green Mountain Dew. When the SQUIP activates, it causes Jeremy to have a seizure in front of Christine and Jake (“The SQUIP Enters”). The SQUIP (in the guise of Keanu Reeves), criticizes Jeremy’s appearance, personality, and behavior, telling him that everything about him is terrible (“Be More Chill Pt. 1”). SQUIP orders him to go to a store to buy a new Eminem shirt. At the store, Jeremy encounter two popular girls from school, Brooke Lohst and Chloe Valentine. The SQUIP has Jeremy fabricate a story about how he had been cheated on in order to create sympathy with the two girls. They offer Jeremy a ride home (“Do You Wanna Ride?”) which the SQUIP demands he accept, but Jeremy declines, telling them that he has to meet his friend. The girls leave, and the SQUIP lies to Jeremy and tells him that Michael has left the mall. It then tells him that in order for its plan to work, Jeremy needs to obey every order it gives him. The SQUIP convinces Jeremy that following its instructions will doubtless improve his social standing (“Be More Chill Pt. 2”).
The next day, Jeremy heads to school with renewed confidence, wondering if he might be less invisible than before. The SQUIP delves into the inner psyche of the student body around him, giving Jeremy insight on the fears and insecurities of his fellow peers, showing that he’s not alone (“Sync Up”). Jeremy sees Rich, who is initially angry that Jeremy bought the SQUIP directly instead of through him, but the SQUIP syncs itself with Rich’s, making them friends. Brightened by his new friendships with Rich and the other popular kids, Jeremy heads confidently to drama practice (“More Than Survive (Reprise)”). At rehearsal, the cast of the play begins to rehearse the zombie-apocalypse version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. During a break, Christine tells Jeremy about her feelings for a guy she knows, who Jeremy initially believes is himself, but who turns out to be Jake (“A Guy That I’d Kinda Be Into”).
Afterward, the SQUIP informs Jeremy that Christine won’t date him until his social standing drastically improves, and it encourages Jeremy to use Brooke as a stepping stone to greater popularity, while Jake asks Christine to come to his house (“Upgrade”). Overwhelmed, Jeremy asks the SQUIP to shut itself off for a few minutes. Immediately, Jeremy sees Michael and is elated, telling him he hasn’t seen him all day, but Michael states that Jeremy has been ignoring him. The SQUIP turns itself back on and explains that it was blocking Michael from Jeremy’s vision using “optic nerve blocking,” and that in order to be more popular he has to “upgrade.” Jeremy is conflicted, because he doesn’t want to go back to being a loser. Jeremy eventually decides, after reflecting on his past mistakes and choices, to turn on optic nerve blocking, leaving him alone with the SQUIP. (“Loser Geek Whatever”).
On Halloween, Jake hosts a large party that features alcohol and other shenanigans (“Halloween”). Christine arrives in a revealing princess costume, hoping to please Jake, but Jake (being heavily intoxicated), brushes her aside to party. Jeremy arrives late and meets Brooke, but when she leaves to get a drink, Chloe, who is jealous of Brooke, takes Jeremy upstairs and tries to seduce him. Jeremy is uncomfortable and tries to get away, but the SQUIP forces him to remain in the situation where it escalates to Chloe making out with Jeremy(“Do You Wanna Hang?”). Chloe also has Jeremy drink alcohol, causing the SQUIP to malfunction, and then feigns having sex with him; causing Jake to become jealous and breaking Brooke’s heart.
Fleeing from Jake and the girls, Jeremy runs into a bathroom, where he finds Michael, who has crashed the party. Michael tries to warn Jeremy of the dangers of the SQUIP, explaining that someone ended up in a mental hospital after they went crazy trying to get it out of their head. Jeremy accuses Michael of being jealous of his popularity and calls him a loser, storming out and leaving his best friend alone. Michael, devastated and angry, locks himself in the bathroom, where he has a severe panic attack as he mourns the loss of his best and only friend (“Michael in the Bathroom”). Jeremy meets Christine and he asks her out in a sudden burst of confidence (“A Guy That I’d Kinda Be Into (Reprise)”). Christine, who has found herself in an existential crisis, declines, and runs out of the party.
Meanwhile, Rich goes around the party frantically asking people for Mountain Dew Red. Jeremy’s SQUIP finally reactivates and reviews the events of the night, prompting Jeremy to leave the party immediately. Rich, alone and desperate, is shown taking a lit up pumpkin. The next morning, Jenna Rolan, the school gossip, informs everyone that Rich had burned down Jake’s house at the end of the party, sending Rich to the hospital and causing Jake to break both of his legs. The news spreads throughout the school through text and tweeting. (“The Smartphone Hour (Rich Set a Fire)”).
At home, Jeremy is confronted by his father, who brings up Jeremy’s new personality and change in attitude. Jeremy reprimands his father for his behavior since his the divorce, calling him a loser as well. Shaken by Jeremy’s words, Mr. Heere realizes that something is very wrong and that he must take charge. He tracks down Michael, who has been smoking copious amounts of weed since the trauma of the party and convinces him to not give up on his friend (“The Pants Song”).
As the cast prepares for the play, Jeremy encounters Christine, who is shaken and upset about the fire. Jeremy realizes that the SQUIP knew about the fire before it happened, and is furious that it allowed people to get hurt, but the SQUIP ignores his complaints, instead telling Jeremy that he can ease the suffering of Christine and the rest of the students, and eventually, the whole world, by providing them all with SQUIPs (“The Pitiful Children”). The SQUIP has Jeremy open Rich’s locker, where he finds a box full of enough SQUIPs for the entire student body. Jeremy pours the pills into a beaker of Mountain Dew. Christine confronts Jeremy over his use of the SQUIP, causing him to doubt the plan, but the SQUIP senses this and has Mr. Reyes take the beaker from him.
During the play, Jeremy notices the other students in the play have been SQUIPPED. The SQUIP reveals its intention to sync the entire student body, in an effort to make everyone in the whole world happy. Jeremy also comes to a realization: green Mountain Dew activates the SQUIP, while red Mountain Dew deactivates it. Michael reappears from the audience with a bottle of Mountain Dew Red, but a SQUIPed Jake steals it and dumps most of it out. Jeremy and Michael fight off the possessed students to regain the bottle until the SQUIP reveals that Christine has been SQUIPed, and under its influence, she professes her love for Jeremy. Knowing she’ll do whatever he asks, he has her drink the last of the red Mountain Dew, causing her to shriek and causing a chain reaction that destroys all of the SQUIPs. (“The Play”).
Jeremy wakes up in the hospital, sharing a room with Rich, who proudly informs Jeremy that he’s bisexual and ready to finally be who he really is. Michael visits Jeremy and the two reconcile, and Mr. Heere (now wearing pants) visit Jeremy as well, informing him that he’ll be a better dad. Surrounded by his friends and family, Jeremy finally realizes that there will always be outside influences, but he needs to learn to make up his own mind instead of simply giving in. He asks Christine out again (for bowling alley performance art), and this time she accepts and kisses him. The SQUIP reveals itself to still be alive, weakly taunting Jeremy from inside his head, but Jeremy ignores it, happily proclaiming that “of the voices in my head, the loudest one is mine.” (“Voices in My Head”)
Following a strong fan following online, the show has received many positive reviews from critics. Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “‘Be More Chill’ is one of the strongest new musicals of the past decade, a charming, astutely crafted tale of neurotic post-millennial geeks in love whose appeal is in no way limited to those whom it portrays.”
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Magazine wrote, “The audiences who made this show happen digitally are now making pilgrimages to the Lyceum Theater to see those songs done live by a talented young cast with enough juice to ignite every light on Broadway… By the time Jeremy belts out his final number, “Voices in My Head,” you’ll be hearing those voices, too, in a wow of a musical that comes on like gangbusters.”
Sara Holdren of New York Magazine ‘s Vulture website, wrote, “The zippy, delightfully devilish Be More Chill is the latest tale of teen angst to convert crippling self-doubt and frustrated desire into the sound of music, and the results are enjoyable not just for their energy and charm but also for the streak of knowing wickedness running through all the pop and fizz.”
Reviewing the Off-Broadway production, Ben Brantley of The New York Times called the show “the theatrical equivalent of one of those high-pitched dog whistles that only those under 25 can hear,” and said that the show would have little to offer for that outside of its tween fandom, as well as criticizing the poor lyricism. He updated his review after seeing the Broadway production and said that even though the show’s production values have increased since the Off-Broadway production, it remains “a festival of klutziness” and “the worst of the lot, with a repetitive score, painfully forced rhymes, cartoonist acting and a general approach that mistakes decibel level (literally and metaphorically) for emotional intensity.”
On the other hand, A.D. Amorosi of Variety called the Off-Broadway production “a memorable thrill ride, a zealously caffeinated high school musical.” Of the Broadway version, Amorosi wrote, “Traditional theater going audiences that tend to be older than the teens and twenty somethings that packed the Off-Broadway run will find delicious favor in Iconis’ contagious melodies and tricky lyrics…“Be More Chill” is Broadway’s wiliest and socially savviest night out for teens and parents alike.”
× Added to the Off-Broadway production.
- “Sync Up” replaced “More Than Survive” (Reprise) for the Broadway production
- Prior to the Off-Broadway production, the order of “The Pants Song” and “The Pitiful Children” was reversed.
|Character||World Premiere (2015)
Two River Theatre
|Workshop Cast (2016)
|Jeremy Heere||Will Connolly||Will Roland|
|Michael Mell||George Salazar|
|Christine Canigula||Stephanie Hsu|
|The SQUIP||Eric William Morris||Jason Tam|
|Chloe Valentine||Katlyn Carlson|
|Brooke Lohst||Lauren Marcus|
|Rich Goranski||Gerard Canonico|
|Jenna Rolan||Katie Ladner||Tiffany Mann|
|Jake Dillinger||Jake Boyd||Heath Saunders||Britton Smith|
|Mr. Heere / Mr. Reyes / Scary Stockboy||Paul Whitty||Jason “SweetTooth” Williams|
Creative Broadway 2019
Book by Joe Tracz
Music by Joe Iconis
Lyrics by Joe Iconis
Based on the novel by Ned Vizzini
Music orchestrated by Charlie Rosen
Vocal arrangements by Emily Marshall
Dance arrangements by Rob Berman
Musical Director: Emily Marshall
Associate Musical Dir.: Geoffrey Ko
Directed by Stephen Brackett
Choreographed by Chase Brock
Associate Choreographer: Alicia Lundgren
Scenic Design by Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design by Bobby Frederick Tilley II
Lighting Design by Tyler Micoleau
Sound Design by Ryan Rumery
Projection Design by Alex Basco Koch
Wig Design by Dave Bova
Make-Up Design by Dave Bova
Associate Scenic Design: Jared Rutherford
Associate Costume Design: Amanda Jenks
Associate Lighting Design: Jimmy Lawlor
Associate Sound Design: Brian McDonald
Associate Projection Design: John Erickson
Associate Hair Design: Cassie Williams
Associate Makeup Design: Rachel Estabrook
Executive Producer: Gerald Goehring
General Manager: LDK Productions and Lisa Dozier King
Company Manager: Daniel Hoyos
Production Supervisor: SenovvA
Production Stage Manager: Amanda Michaels
Stage Manager: Michael Rico Cohen
Musical Supervisor: Charlie Rosen
Musical Coordinator: Michael Aarons
Conducted by Emily Marshall
Keyboard 1: Emily Marshall
Theremin/Trumpt/Flugabone/Recorder: Danny Jonokuchi
Woodwinds/Keyboard 2/Vocoder: Josh Plotner
Guitar 1: Mike Rosengarten
Guitar 2 & Ukulele: Charlie Rosen
Drums/Percussion: Marques Walls
Bass: Dennis Michael Keefe
Music Copying: Danielle Gimbal
Synthesizer Programmer: Randy Cohen
Ableton Programmer: Taylor Williams and Dana Haynes
The world premiere cast recorded an original cast album on July 21, 2015, which was released on October 31, 2015. The album has since received over 150 million streams online. The cast recording was released on vinyl by Ghostlight Records in July 2018. An Original Broadway Cast Album was recorded in March 2019, to be released sometime in Spring 2019.
On October 20, 2018, four months before the show opened on Broadway, it was announced that Shawn Levy and Greg Berlanti would partner to produce a film adaptation of the musical. It is still yet to be determined over which film studio will acquire the film rights to make the film with Levy and Berlanti, even though they currently have first-look deals with 20th Century Fox. Other film producers who contended for the film rights included Nina Jacobson, Ron Howard, Michael De Luca, Marty Bowen, Scooter Braun, Jennifer Todd and Robert Zemeckis.
- “Be More Chill (Original Cast Recording)”. Ghostlight Records. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
- “Current Season” tworivertheater.org
- Isherwood, Charles (2015-06-09). “Review: In Be More Chill, a Nerd Finds Popularity in a Sci-Fi Pill”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
- “Be More Chill opens at Two River Theater”. NJ.com. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
- McPhee, Ryan. “Be More Chill Will Play Off-Broadway; Will Roland to Star”, Playbill.com, April 13, 2018
- “Company”. Be More Chill | Off-Broadway | Official Site. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
- Clement, Olivia (2018-09-05). “Be More Chill Will Transfer To Broadway In 2019″. playbill.com. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
- Clement, Olivia. “Be More Chill Sets Wheels in Motion for Move to Broadway”. forbes.com. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
- “Joe Iconis’ Be More Chill Cast Recording, with Gerard Canonico, George Salazar and More, Released Today | Playbill”. Playbill. 2015-10-30. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
- “Legit Review.” Variety, 2018
- “Be More Chill Cast Recording to be Released on Vinyl | Playbill”. Playbill. 2018-04-27. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
- “‘Be More Chill’ Review: Young Geeks in Love”. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- “‘Be More Chill’ Brings Its Jagged Little Teen Pill to Broadway”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- “Theater Review: Be More Chill Does High School With Knowing Wickedness”. New York Magazine. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- “Review: A High School Meltdown Heats Up ‘Be More Chill'”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
- “Review: Anxious Teenagers Learn to ‘Be More Chill’ on a Big Stage”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
- “Off Broadway Review: ‘Be More Chill'”. Variety. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
- “Broadway Review: ‘Be More Chill'”. Variety. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- Fleming, Mike. “‘Be More Chill’ Broadway Musical” deadline.com, October 20, 2018