REVIEW: Be More Chill – Original Off Broadway Cast Recording ✭✭✭✭

Be More Chill Off Broadway Cast RecordingBe More Chill
Original Off Broadway Cast
Ghostlight Records
Buy Be More Chill

Based on Ned Vizzini’s science fiction novel of the same name, Be More Chill is a new musical with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz. The musical had its world premiere at Two River Theatre in New Jersey in 2015.

Lovers of television series Smash will already have a knowledge of Joe Iconis through his contributions the musical Hit List in series two.

Be More Chill is one of those great stories where the class nerd seeks popularity, but realises that perhaps the result just isn’t worth the cost. Popularity at the cost of friends seems a great idea at the time, but a bad move in hindsight.

Popularity comes via a Sqipp – a piece of Japanese tech that must be swallowed in pill form. The Squipp installs itself and then starts its work as a “cyberstylist” making Jeremy as chill as he can be. Surely, the answer can’t be that simple and it’s not.

Will Connolly plays Jeremy, the nerd in question. His opening anthem More Than Survive sets up his raison d’être as he declares “I don’t want to be Clooney, no, no, I just want to survive!

Be More Chill is a show with some epic musical moments. Iconis has written some of the greatest pop musical theatre songs I’ve heard in a long time. Be More Chill is full of infectious melodies, well crafted hooks and some great musical theatre characters. Pop references abound and the use of Mountain Dew is inspired.

Favourites from the score include the simply wonderful Michael In The Bathroom (sung by George Salazar), a character study of Jeremy’s best friend Michael who finds himself expressing his doubts, fears and insecurities in the bathroom at the coolest party of the year. It’s immediately followed by the shows “hot” girls (Katie Ladner, Katlyn Carlson and Lauren Marcus) singing The Smartphone Hour (Rich Set A Fire). The latter owing something to The Telephone Hour in Bye Bye Birdie. These are beautifully constructed moments that cement Iconis’ place as one of the great up and coming musical theatre composers.

The performances on this recording are alive and exciting. For UK fans of Bourne and Davis’s musical Loserville, it’s a must have in your collections. Like most great cast recordings, the plot of Be More Chill comes across clearly.

Charlie Rosen has provided the show’s orchestrations and the slick show band deliver a driving score with the occasional use of toy pianos in the mix that I loved!

As a child of cast albums I always judge a cast album by whether or not I’d want to see or even if it came to it produce a production of the show in question. In the case of Be More Chill, the answer is in the affirmative for both questions. Even after several listens, I’m still enjoying the score and the wonderful performances from this talented cast.

The Be More Chill cast album is produced by Kurt Deutsch, Joe Iconis and Charlie Rosen for Ghostlight Records.


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