By: Mai Chiaet
“Be More Chill” was at first a science-fiction novel created by Ned Vizzini in 2004. It later became a musical by Joe Iconis at Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey in 2015.
On November 11th, 2017, the beloved play came back for fans to enjoy in Lakewood, New Jersey. An announcer at the play mentioned that people from Connecticut, Canada, and even Brazil, among other places, came to New Jersey just for this rare event.
Both the musical and book tell the story of Jeremy Heere, an awkward, self conscious, and geeky junior trying to find himself in high school. However, he has his best friend at his side, Michael Mell. Both characters struggle in their school full of popular students who often bully and segregate them from the two outcasts. Jeremy is hopeless and sworn to be a “loser” until high school’s end, until one of the popular students introduces him to a Squip. A Squip is a super computer that is swallowed like a pill. It programs into the brain of it’s host and tells that person how to act and become “cool.” The Squip can access every thought, muscle, and function in a host’s body. Jeremy obtains his Squip and it takes control of his body in hopes of him becoming one of the “popular kids” and having the girl of his dreams, Christine. Despite these promises granted by the Squip, Jeremy’s whole persona is altered. Throughout the play, the Squip changes Jeremy and teaches him how to be chill, but Jeremy loses himself as a person. The Squip has his own ideas about the world and manipulates and takes control of Jeremy.
“Be More Chill” has only been around for two years, so why is there such a large crowd in love with this musical? Through charismatic choreography, vibrant technical and digital features, and memorable songs, “Be More Chill” showcases the true essence of theatre arts, however spoken in a non traditional setting.
Aside from “Be More Chill’s” original and witty humor, there is an apparent dark side to its appearance. “Be More Chill” grabbed the attention of many teenagers, most of whom have felt elements of stress and discomfort within themselves. This may have been because of the play’s realistic portrayal of what high school is like for outcasts
For example, in the hit song “Michael In the Bathroom”, Michael reminiscenced about how his best friend had left him to become something different than his true self. As a result, the character has a powerful mental breakdown over this realization. He had been best friends with Jeremy for 12 years and is completely fine with being himself, often calling himself and Jeremy a loser, but without someone to be by his side, he is alone. This shows how there are elements that all teenagers in all positions can relate to in the musical.
According to Tara Perrothers, who went to see the musical, “Be More Chill” affects the people watching it by reminding them that “you don’t need someone else to make you better. You don’t need outside sources to make you earn self confidence, which is what the Squip is representing.” She also mentions that often teenagers feel the need to fit into roles, but the show provides the support that “you don’t need to fit social norms.”
“Be More Chill,” awes the audience with it’s layered contexts, relatable moments, funny scenes, and more. As a relatively new musical, it has achieved great strides by pleasing its audience in genuine ways.
Categories: Arts & Reviews