A CurtainUp London Review
Be More Chill
It is very much in the genre of Dear Evan Hansen and the British musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie in as far as Be More Chill is about coping with difference at the vulnerable age of late adolescence. Except that Be More Chill takes off in a science fiction fantasy way and is brimful with humour.
Jeremy Heere (Scott Folan) is very tall and very skinny and mocked by the cool kids. He meets the very cool Rich Goranski (James Hameed) who has taken a chill pill. Rich Goranski was one of the uncool "outcasts" in his freshman year. Jeremy has a crush on a drama wannabe Christine Canigula (with the fascinating name of Miracle Chance) and she has a whole library of wide eyed visual expression to match. Christine sings "I Love Play Rehearsal" so we can be sure about her dramatic ambition.
Jeremy blows his bar mitzvar money on this chill pill with a difference and his SQUIP(Super Quantum Unit Intel Processor) (Stewart Clarke) is materialised with his silvered circuit board designed costume matching some of the set. The squid is inside Jeremy's brain and all he has to do is to listen to it and it will guide him to be the acknowledged coolest kid around. "My job's to colour your aesthetic and to make you seem much less pathetic," is in the Squip's witty lyric.
Jeremy's best friend and fellow geek is Michael Mell (Blake Patrick Anderson), a warm character who is left out in the cold after Jeremy's chill conversion. His song, "Michael in the Bathroom" at a party is touching. "I'm just Michael in the bathroom/ Michael in the bathroom at a party/ No, you can't come in/ I'm waiting it out 'til it's time to leave/ And picking at grout as I softly grieve."
Two standout girls Brooke Lohst (Eloise Davies) and Chloe Valentine (Millie O'Connell) are the top of the high school pecking order dating tree and the Squip gives Jeremy a back story about dumping a French girlfriend who cheated on him to draw in Brooke. Millie's comic range is on show here as well as her musical talent. We all remember her as Anne Boleyn in Six. Another Six star is Renee Lamb as Jenna Rolan, the high school gossip.
I very much liked Beowulf Boritt's set: clever projections from Alex Basco Koch, simple but effective and lit very well by Tyler Micoleau to make it exciting and impactful. The tunes are good, the lyrics comic and meaningful. You will understand why they have been so often streamed. The Halloween scene sees fabulous costumes and more of the vibrant choreography which is full of energy.
Teenage concerns to the fore this musical isn't afraid to mention masturbation. It is a joy to see a show which may start a whole life of theatre going for some and who will not be short changed by Be More Chill. Curtain Up's review by Charles Wright on Broadway is here here.
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Be More Chill
Book by Joe Tracz
Music and Lyrics: Joe Iconis
From the novel by Ned Vizzini
Directed by Stephen Brackett
Starring: Blake Patrick Anderson, Miracle Chance. Stewart Clarke, Eloise Davies, Scott Folan, Christopher Fry, James Hameed, Renee Lambe, Millie O'Connell, Miles Paloma
Choreographer: Chase Brock
Music Supervisor and Orchestrations: Charlie Rosen
Vocal Arrangements: Emily Marshall
Scenic Designer: Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design: Bobby Frederick Tilley II
Lighting Design: Tyler Micoleau
Sound Design: Ryan Rumery
Projection Design: Alex Basco Koch
Running time: Two hour 30 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 020 7592 0302
Booking to 14th June 2020
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 18th February 2020 at the Other Palace Theatre, 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA (Rail/Tube: Victoria)
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