New Year | New Work


TWO RIVER’S BE MORE CHILL
AND HURRICANE DIANE
MOVE TO BROADWAY & BEYOND!


2019 is a big year for us! Not only are we celebrating our 25th Anniversary Season, but following their world-premieres at Two River Theater, Be More Chill (2015) and Hurricane Diane (2017) will start performances on and Off-Broadway in February! Learn more about how Two River Theater is becoming an incubator for some of the nation’s most exciting new plays and musicals, and about our next upcoming world premiere!

The Company of Be More Chill at Two River Theater. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Be More Chill

Following its 2015 world-premiere at Two River Theater and a SOLD-OUT Off-Broadway run this summer, the smash-hit musical, Be More Chill by composer/lyricist Joe Iconis and playwright Joe Tracz, will start previews at the Lyceum Theatre on February 13. Named “one of the most popular new musicals in America” by The New York Times and a “sensation” by Variety, Billboard, Time Out New York & more, Be More Chill is of the most highly anticipated Broadway productions of 2019.

Hurricane Diane
Mia Barron in Hurricane Diane at Two River Theater. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Hurricane Diane

This 2017 Two River world-premiere by Playwright in Residence and Pulitzer Prize finalist Madeleine George, starts previews Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop on February 6. Tony nominee Leigh Silverman directs this wild comedy— about four housewives in a suburban New Jersey cul-de-sac and climate change—which is a co-production with WP Theater.

 


Interview with Joe Iconis & Madeleine George


We recently spoke with both Joe Iconis and Madeleine George about their experiences at Two River and their upcoming runs in New York. Check out what they had to say!

 

Joe Iconis

 

Joe Iconis
Be More Chill Composer and Lyricist, Joe Iconis.

TWO RIVER THEATER: How did Two River Theater help jumpstart the creation of Be More Chill?

JOE ICONIS: Two River commissioned myself and Joe Tracz to write Be More Chill. The theater supported us artistically and financially through our creative process. Two River nurtured me as a writer and as a human being. I’ve never had a better time working at a regional theater and I’ve never experienced a community as supportive and engaged as Red Bank.

TWO RIVER THEATER: What was it like to premiere the show at Two River Theater?

JOE ICONIS: A complete thrill. The theater feels just removed enough from the intense, watchful gaze of New York City but close enough to still feel connected to the NY theater scene. The staff at Two River is a collection of the smartest and most passionate human beings I’ve had the privilege of working with, under the gorgeous leadership of John Dias and Michael Hurst. It feels like a family business in the best way.

TWO RIVER THEATER: What were your expectations for the show following its premiere?

JOE ICONIS: My dream of dreams was that the show would transfer to a fancy non-profit theater in NYC and then move to Broadway. It became clearer after opening that that particular dream wasn’t in the cards for Be More Chill and that was hugely disappointing but not entirely surprising. The fact that the show was reborn two years after closing at Two River and went on to an off-Broadway production and, now, a Broadway production is the biggest surprise of my entire career. Or possibly my entire life.

TWO RIVER THEATER: How did the Two River Theater original cast recording impact the show’s future success?

JOE ICONIS: The show would not have found its audience without the original cast recording, period. Two River made the recording happen, period. Without the album there would’ve been no viral sensation and no off-Broadway production and no Broadway.

TWO RIVER THEATER: What are you most looking forward to as the show moves to Broadway?

JOE ICONIS: My dream has always been to have a show on Broadway that I care about, surrounded by artists I love and respect. That dream is coming true this February on 45th street. I’m looking forward to seeing this misfit musical we birthed in a beautiful regional theater in New Jersey come to life in a beautiful old theater in New York City. The only downside is that I won’t be able to run to the Molly Pitcher for a nightcap after the show. Just another reason to get back to Two River to work on a new musical as soon as humanly possible. Playwright in Residence, Madeleine George.

 

Madeleine George

 

Madeleine George
Playwright in Residence, Madeleine George.

TWO RIVER THEATER: How did Two River Theater help jumpstart the creation of Hurricane Diane?

MADELEINE GEORGE: John Dias commissioned me to write Hurricane Diane back in 2014 based on a harebrained pitch—I told him I wanted to write an apocalyptic comedy about the ancient Greek god Dionysus coming back to the American suburbs to restart a mystery cult in an attempt to halt global warming. Who says yes to a play like that, sight unseen? John did! And he and Stephanie and the entire team at Two River made the play happen at every point in its development, from the earliest readings of chunks of the first draft all the way through to inspiring marketing meetings and beautiful set construction and talkbacks and events with audience members during the premiere in January 2017.

TWO RIVER THEATER: What was it like to premiere the show at Two River Theater?

MADELEINE GEORGE: Since the play was written for Two River and set in an imaginary version of Red Bank, it was truly a dream come true to premiere it here on the banks of the Navesink. Two River audiences are always adventurous, but I felt like this play really brought out people’s eagerness to talk—I had some amazing conversations in the lobby of the theater with people who had seen the play and wanted to talk about their experiences during Hurricane Sandy, their hopes for the future of coastal New Jersey, and their curiosity about new plays.

TWO RIVER THEATER: What were your expectations for the show following its premiere?

MADELEINE GEORGE: New plays really need more than one production to find their finished form—this is why there’s a tradition of “trying out” Broadway shows around the country before bringing them in to New York—so of course I hoped I’d get to take another whack at the script. As much work as we did on it during the premiere, I still had lots of things I wanted to clarify and make simpler and bolder before I could feel finished with the play, and production is the very best way to rewrite a script. The folks at New York Theatre Workshop came out to Red Bank to see the first production, and they were interested enough in the play to support us—my director, Leigh Silverman, and the original cast from the Two River production—in doing a number of developmental workshops since that first production. It’s a huge stroke of luck for me to have them and WP (f.k.a. The Women’s Project) producing the second production now in New York.

TWO RIVER THEATER: What are you most looking forward to as the show moves to New York?

MADELEINE GEORGE: I can’t wait to get into the rehearsal room again with this creative team, who all know each other so well after working so hard on the premiere, and to try to get the play into the best shape we can. My goal as a playwright is always to find the best, most thrilling form in which to explore an idea, and my dream in this case is that audience members will leave wondering actively about the questions the play raises—how can we manage our overwhelming feelings about climate change? How can we reconnect with the natural world around us?—And not wondering what happened in the story!