Be More Chill rapidly become a musical phenomenon amongst young theatre fans across the country… even before it opened on Broadway!
The musical, based on the popular 2004 novel by Ned Vizzini, features a relentlessly catchy score by Joe Iconis and a book by Joe Tracz. It originally premiered in May 2015 as a regional production at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey, commissioned as part of its new play development program. What happened next is almost unprecedented…
Be More Chill went viral, so to speak, and generated the kind of online buzz on YouTube and various social media platforms that regional productions can only dream of. Even before its New York premiere, the musical’s cast recording had been streamed well over 150 million times and on Tumblr, it ranked as the second most talked-about musical on their site (behind Hamilton). Its central themes of teenage angst and cyber escapism had obviously struck a chord with a young, enthusiastic demographic across the States and a New York premiere was just a question of time.
Be More Chill officially opened at Pershing Square Signature Center’s Irene Diamond Stage on August 9, 2018, following previews from July 26, and enjoyed a sold-out 10-week off-Broadway premiere engagement. Fans flew in from around the country and countless hopefuls registered their digital lottery entries or lined up outside the box office for cancellations at every performance. The production also garnered a great deal of critical acclaim in New York, justifying the hype. Our own critic, Stanford Friedman, commented in his 5-star review that the show is “catnip for theater kids and a dynamic dose of escapism for their parents.”
Having accumulated so much momentum thus far, surely the production’s final off-Broadway performance on September 30, 2018 couldn’t be its last? Certainly Not. The bright lights of Broadway were beckoning and a multi-million-dollar transfer was announced, with previews beginning at the Lyceum Theatre on February 13, 2019, ahead of an official opening on March 10.
Months before the Broadway opening, a film adaptation of the novel and musical was also reported to be in development, with Shawn Levy and Greg Berlanti listed as producers.
(Photos by Maria Baranova)