‘Be More Chill’ Cast Shares What the Musical Would Have Meant to Them in High School
“Be More Chill” is a musical for the loser, geek, or whatever in all of us, and it has caught on like wildfire with high schoolers today with its big-hearted message about being yourself and embracing your uniqueness. Based on the book by Ned Vizzini and written by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz, the musical starts performances on Broadway on Feb. 13, and we chatted with the cast about what this show would have meant to their high school selves.
Will Roland (Jeremy)
I would have loved this show so much. I was and am sort of an odd boy, and I love the larger than life world that this play occurs in. I just would have been like, “Look at all these weirdos dancing around and singing their faces off, and they’re all in love and they’re all complicated and they’re all these things.” I would have killed to have those sort of contemporary representation on a stage.
George Salazar (Michael)
I came out of the closet to myself and to my friends in high school, and it was really hard. I felt super alone in that process. If I had a musical like “Be More Chill” around, I really truly feel like it would have been a much easier situation for me. I think this musical would tell high school George, “It’s cool to just be you and be as weird as you are. It’s important to own your individuality and just be unapologetically you.” I think it would give me the license to spread my wings and be really proud of all the things that I am.
Stephanie Hsu (Christine)
I started theater really late, and when I started theater in high school, people would be like, you could play Marcy Park from “Spelling Bee” or I played Mrs. Meers in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” which is kind of crazy to think about. But if this show had existed when I was in high school, I would have understood that being in my body and being not a princess, I’d still be able to be the object of affection and love. People never get to see this kind of love story so I feel like it’s so important.
Joe Iconis (Composer/Lyricist)
This show would have encouraged me to be a little less worried about what people think. The show would have hopefully pushed me out of my comfort zone a little bit. In high school, it wasn’t the sort of thing where I was like, “Oh I’m such a weirdo. Nobody understands me.” It was like, “I’m afraid to show anything of myself at all.” I would hope this show would make me say, “Oh I can show something about myself and that’s okay and there’s nothing weird about that.” That’s a thing to be celebrated.
Jason SweetTooth Williams (Mr. Heere/Mr. Reyes/Scary Stockboy)
It would have given me a voice. I was a theater kid in high school, that comes with a lot of issues sometimes. I think theater tends to draw people who feel “other.” It would have given me something to listen to nonstop and show my parents who would have been into it. It just would give me something to put on and dance to.
Jason Tam (The Squip)
It would have chilled me out. It sounds like a cop out answer because that’s the title of our show, but it’s so true. High school is such a tumultuous time. I remember feeling very wound up and very insecure about who I was and who I thought people wanted me to be. I feel like this show would have helped me see the universality of that scenario, that everybody feels that way. Everybody’s feeling anxious inside, that’s kids and teachers and adults alike. It would have helped me feel not alone in that. I feel like I was a late bloomer, and it would have helped me step into my shoes sooner in life.
Britton Smith (Jake)
High school Britton was very similar to Jake, the character I play in the show, this popular, has it together kind of guy. But underneath that, my friends didn’t know the things I was dealing with. There were a lot of secrets that I kept. And “Be More Chill” would let me know that my secrets weren’t my own, that everybody had secrets. “Be More Chill” would have affirmed that I wasn’t alone in my hiding.