Inside the Production of Be More Chill at Two River Theater

Based on the acclaimed 2004 novel by Ned Vizzini, this highly anticipated world premiere was written by two of the most exciting voices in musical theater—Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz. Jeremy Heere is just an average teenager. That is, until he finds out about “The Squip”—a tiny supercomputer that promises to bring him everything he desires most: a date with Christine, an invite to the raddest party of the year and a chance to survive life in his suburban New Jersey high school. A truly hilarious, honest and invigorating look at the lengths one will go to get the girl, set to some of the most vibrant and exciting songs in musical theater today!

BE MORE CHILL AT TWO RIVER THEATER

As soon as Be More Chill premiered at Two River Theater, it was clear this musical was something special. There are shows that people love and come back to see, but this one had super fans coming three times… four times… or up to nine times during the show’s four-week run. Be More Chill developed a passionate local following almost immediately, with audience members (many of them high school and college students from the Monmouth County area) coming night after night, bonding with cast members, and spreading the word of Be More Chill.

Two River Theater also enlisted the help of the powerful Squip Squad: a team of students from area high schools who made it their mission to spread the Be More Chill word to their classes, friends, drama clubs, and beyond. Plus giving us their teenaged wisdom in how to get the word out to the amazing young audience that we knew would love Be More Chill (short of developing our own nefarious supercomputer).

The Original Cast Recording was made with Ghostlight Records in 2015. The tunes that rocked the Two River stage are available worldwide on on iTunesSpotify, and (coming soon!) on vinyl.

THE BE MORE CHILL PHENOMENON

The original cast recording is what made Be More Chill accessible to more than just the lucky unit of original fans who got to see the world premiere production in Red Bank, New Jersey. Through the international reach of Spotify and iTunes, the show’s local cult popularity exploded to circle the globe within the past year, with fans as far away as Australia, Sweden, Isreal, and the Squip’s homeland of Japan.

As of April 2018 the original cast recording of Be More Chill has been streamed over 90 million times. The album has made it as high up as #8 on Billboard’s cast album chart, and the #BeMoreChill tag on Instagram includes over 145,000 posts—just a small fraction of the fandom’s multi-platform online enthusiasm. Popular fandom hub tumblr.com ranked Be More Chill as second overall for the Top Musicals of 2017, beating out musicals like Tony Award winner Dear Evan Hansen and Wicked. The only musical to beat Be More Chill, according to Tumblr fans, was super-smash hit Hamilton.

A Two River-run campaign at the end of 2017 called the Squip Fund, raising money for the next commissioned musical by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz, made its Go Fund Me goal of $10,000 within two days. By the end of the month-long campaign, Be More Chill fans had contributed over $20,800 and scored access to some never before seen photos and video footage of the original production.

 

WHERE IS BE MORE CHILL TODAY?

The musical is currently available for licensing by Rodgers & Hammerstein, which recommends Be More Chill for high schools, colleges, community theater, and professional theater (hard to imagine a group you couldn’t recommend the show for). As of April 2018 it’s currently licensed for 30 productions through May 2018: 23 domestic and 7 foreign.

Who knows where the Squip’s mission of world domination will take the musical next! For whatever the future holds for Jeremy, Michael, Christine, and the rest of the kids of Be More Chill, Two River Theater is proud and delighted to have been the first home for this incredible musical, which has meant so much to so many around the world.