Review: ‘Be More Chill’ during The Pershing Square Signature Center

Making a New York entrance in a singular rendezvous during The Pershing Square Signature Center, Be More Chill – sold-out before it non-stop and extended for another sold-out week over a initially-scheduled nine-week run – is a manly painting of a energy of a internet to emanate a renouned materialisation in a digitized culture. With over 150 million streams and counting of a expel manuscript from a strange 2015 prolongation (at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, that consecrated a work) and video clips and posts going viral on an array of social-media platforms, a musical-comedy prodigy by Joe Iconis (music and lyrics) and Joe Tracz (book), formed on a 2004 cult novel of a same name by Ned Vizzini, found a new and astonishing life Off-Broadway. Lucky for us that it did.

Will Roland (center) and a cast. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Inventively mixing retro-sci-fi and unconventional record with pop-culture references, a high-voltage measure and choreography, and a keen-witted bargain of a concept hurdles of being a teen, a LOL contemporary account follows a tour of Jeremy Heere, a not-so-cool high-school tyro in parochial New Jersey, who hopes he can urge his amicable standing, put an finish to a bullying he faces on a daily basis, unqualified his vanquish on his classmate Christine, and feel improved about himself by upgrading to a ideal life with a ingestion of a “Squip” – a mini-computer in plug form that embeds itself in his mind and programs his mind to grasp a recognition he craves. But will his newfound certainty be all that, or will he remove his authentic self and turn a chairman he wouldn’t unequivocally like, and shouldn’t wish to be, in a process?

Stephen Brackett leads with an eye on a hilarity, heartbreak, and probity fundamental in this thoroughly-engaging coming-of-age story, and a superb garb delivers hysterically-funny characterizations of a informed high-school archetypes (the meant girls, a prohibited guy, a bully, a gossip, and a outcasts). Starring in a New York prolongation is Will Roland as Jeremy, a self-acknowledged “Loser Geek Whatever” and a summary of teenage angst. With function that is infrequently questionable, infrequently laughable, infrequently devastating, though always recognizable, he transforms, with a assist of The Squip (personified with a autocratic participation by Jason Tam), from video-game (and video-porn) nerd into a big-deal cold guy, and eventually to a immature adult who reboots to Jeremy 1.0 after deadly bugs are rescued in a new computer-generated chronicle of himself and a other students who’ve been infected.

Will Roland and George Salazar. Photo by Maria Baranova.

George Salazar (returning from a strange New Jersey cast) turns in a stellar opening as Jeremy’s best crony Michael, who has a foreknowledge to commend that “high propagandize is hell” though they’ll be “cool in college” in their rousing Act we duet “Two-Player Game” – an upbeat paean to their long-time bromance and not-so-distant future. His mood afterwards shifts dramatically in Act II, during a blow-out Halloween dress celebration to that he wasn’t invited. His achingly touching opening of “Michael in a Bathroom” is a showstopper, packed over with tension and building to a crescendo of a heartrending girl coercion of being an outsider, dumped by Jeremy (now underneath a mind-control of The Squip), and feeling finished abandoned, isolated, and alone.

Stephanie Hsu (also a member of a strange company) is a pleasure as Christine, a intent of Jeremy’s love and a lead member of a school’s play bar (a crafty self-referencing device by a show’s creators). She is during initial adorably hyperactive (“I Love Play Rehearsal”), afterwards swept divided and played by a wrong child (“A Guy That I’d Kinda Be Into”), before apropos some-more grounded and self-reflective, in a convincing description of her character’s maturation process. And new to a Off-Broadway expel is Jason SweetTooth Williams in 3 graphic adult roles, as Jeremy’s Dad (depressed given his mother left and vital in his underwear and bathrobe all day, each day), Mr. Reyes (the high-school play clergyman who’d rather be on Broadway and turns a blind eye to a school’s prevalent bullying), and a Scary Stockboy (who pushes Squips in a emporium during a internal mall).

The refreshing songs brew Broadway-style uncover tunes and ballads with stone and techno (music instruction and outspoken arrangements by Emily Marshall; song organisation and orchestrations by Charlie Rosen), and Chase Brock’s spot-on choreography ranges from ebulliently childish to sci-fi creepy. Among a many highlights, achieved with merriment by a energetic garb (featuring Tiffany Mann as Jenna, Katlyn Carlson as Chloe, and Lauren Marcus as Brooke), is “The Smartphone Hour (Rich Set a Fire),” in that a word about a sobering eventuality during a celebration is widespread like practical wildfire by a connected girls.

A colorful post-modern scenic pattern by Clint Ramos (inspired by mechanism screens and circuit boards) is protracted by Alex Basco Koch’s visually-exciting projections, Tyler Micoleau’s electric-hued and neon lighting, and scary electronic sound effects by Ryan Rumery. Bobby Frederick Tilley provides eye-catching bland wear and celebration costumes that conclude a personalities with incisively-amusing accuracy.

Along with a high party value, Be More Chill offers pivotal psychological discernment into a mind and struggles of contemporary youth, examining a critical amicable issues of teenage report and bullying, stress and depression, recreational drug use, and being probably connected online though not to a romantic existence of others around you. The uncover also sends an critical summary of certain bolster to all kids who doubt their possess self-worth: you’re adequate as you. With a thesis and song that pronounce to a teenagers of a digital age (and to everybody else who remembers the trauma and hormonally-charged emotions of being in high school), it is a smart, funny, and constrained uncover that has a intensity to make lifelong theatergoers out of a stream generation. So if we unequivocally trust that a museum is dead, only “be some-more chill” and, if we weren’t fortunate enough to measure tickets for a stream run, see this unusual work in a destiny production. Did we hear that, Broadway?

Running Time: Approximately dual hours and 20 minutes, including an intermission.

Be More Chill plays by Sunday, Sep 30, 2018, behaving during The Pershing Square Signature Center, The Irene Diamond Stage – 480 42nd Street, NYC. For tickets, call (212) 279-4200, or go online.

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