By Sandi Durell
By now I think most theatergoers know about the history of BMC that opened last night on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre. It has an interesting cult history when a novel written by late Ned Vizzini, was lovingly taken under the wing at Two River Theater in NJ and Joe Iconis (music and lyrics – writer TV’s Smash) and Joe Tracz (book) brought to life the very topical story of an awkward teen geek in a sci-fi high school musical setting that continued on to become the soundtrack of the generation who perked up even more when 200 million video streams of the cast recording caused a new kind of revolution.
This led to an immediate sold out Off Broadway run this past summer at Signature Theaters with screaming teens and young 20s waiting to meet the cast every night post show. The cast is still in tact with the addition of some new faces in this edgy, raucous, rockin’, can’t keep a good thing down musical!
The story is about two best friends Jeremy (the exceptional Will Roland – Dear Evan Hansen) and Michael (the truly gifted George Salazar – The Lightening Thief, tick tick… BOOM!). Jeremy is that loser kid we all know, made fun of at school especially by Rich (fast talkin’ Gerard Canonico). Poor Jeremy can barely get his words out to try and talk to Christine (Stephanie Hsu) whom he secretly loves; he needs to find a way to “More Than Survive.” Michael, on the other hand, is happy being with Jeremy, playing video games (“Two-Player Game”) and doing a little weed. Christine is quietly content with who she is (“I Love Play Rehearsal”).
When the solution appears to Jeremy via Rich in the form of swallowing an unknown computer chip – a pill called a Squip – the sci-fi AI mind controlling, looking a lot like Keanu Reeves – Jason Tam, Jeremy has dug deep into his pockets to come up with $400 of his Bar Mitzvah money in a clandestine buy in the back alley of a Payless Shoe Store to acquire the little gray pill so he can “Be More Chill” – – an energetic, hi-octane Squip and Ensemble number that symbolizes a new world for Jeremy Heere.
The kids at school see a marked difference in Jeremy’s personality as he gets his cool on and two of the school swingers Brook (Lauren Marcus) and Chloe (Katlyn Carlson) are immediately attracted.
Jeremy’s Dad (Jason Sweettooth Wiliams), hasn’t left the house since his wife walked out on him nor has he worn pants. Always in a bathrobe, he is desperately trying to be his son’s friend and realizes he needs to step up and take charge in “The Pants Song.”
However, the most outstanding and probably best known number is Salazar’s “Michael in the Bathroom” as the audience offers up unending screams and applause. The three hot chicks in the form of Lauren Marcus, Katlyn Carlson and Tiffany Mann are a three-some to be reckoned with – “The Smartphone House (Rich Set a Fire).”
The show has expanded its presence on a Broadway stage – fast moving, fast talking, with exceptional projection design by Alex Basco Koch.
The out of the box costumes, especially in Act II at the Halloween Party, are a wild fantastical fantasia designed by Bobby Frederick Tilley II. Lighting effects are sensational in the hands of Tyler Micoleau with sound design by Ryan Rumery on Beowulf Boritt’s cell phone inspired set. The music direction and vocal arrangements are by Emily Marshall, with musical supervision and orchestrations by Charlie Rosen.
Additional cast members include: Cameron Bond, Anthony Chatmon II, Morgan Siobhan Green, Troy Iwata, Talia Suskauer and Joel Waggoner – and what a team they all make! Special shout out to Britton Smith as Jake Dillinger and other weirdos!
With genius Stephen Brackett at the helm directing, the cast is kept on its toes and more so with Chase Brock’s robotic, quick moving choreography.
The comedy and fun fly brilliantly. This is a show that speaks directly to the young generation and makes parents happy that their kids now want to attend theater. Happily, the parents are doing some of their own screaming in the audience.
“C-c-c’mon, c-c-c’mon. . . “ Get tickets while you still can!
**WATCH FOR OPENING NIGHT PHOTOS AND VIDEO INTERVIEWS!
Photos: Maria Baranova
Be More Chill – Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45 Street, run time 2 hrs, 30 min. (one intermission) www.bemorechillmusical.com