Review: Be More Chill, starring Will Roland
Before it even began its run at The Pershing Square Signature Center, Be More Chill can already be considered one of the most popular musicals among teens and young adults. Thanks to a cast album from its original run three years ago in New Jersey, Be More Chill gained a huge online following, resulting in enough support from fans that the idea of a run in New York became a reality.
A decent amount of the original cast returned to the production for the run, including George Salazar (Michael), Stephanie Hsu (Christine), Katlyn Carlson (Chloe), Lauren Marcus (Brooke), and Gerard Canonico (Rich). They are joined by Will Roland (Jeremy), Jason Tam (The SQUIP), Tiffany Mann (Jenna), Britton Smith (Jake), and Jason Sweettooth Williams (Jeremy's Dad/Mr. Reyes/Scare Stockboy).
While die-hard fans will recognize the music instantly, I went in only knowing two songs. I was pleasantly surprised the score, though it isn't your typical musical songs. It's a loud pop-rock score that has a few clever rhymes, despite a lot of repetition in songs. The book is well done, though things do get a little hazy towards the end of the show, and you aren't exactly sure how everything wrapped up. However, the last song "Voices In My Head" tries to help make sense of the ending, and mostly succeeds.
The cast is lively, and clearly dedicated to what they are doing on stage. Despite only being 10 people, they fill up the small stage with their vocals and with the energy they bring to the production. There is a nice blend between those who were a part of the original production, and those who are joining the show now. The play off each other well, and give each character some development, despite some of them not being main players. In particular, George Salazar is perfect at retaining the audience's sympathy without appearing pushy or overbearing, while Tiffany Mann embodies Jenna flawlessly with killer vocals to match.
It's not perfect, but it is effective and clearly successful. As the audience you are fully thrown in to the brain of a high school student navigating the perils of popularity. It's not an uncommon topic for a musical these days, but it different from others, mainly thanks to its source material. While everyone can theoretically enjoy this, teenagers are the target audience and will enjoy it the most.
Be More Chill is sold out for a majority of its run at Signature Theater. Tickets are still available for some of their performances before they close on September 23rd.