Be More Chill

Student+standing+behind+a+chain+link+fence.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Be More Chill

Student standing behind a chain link fence.

Student standing behind a chain link fence.

Wokandapix

Student standing behind a chain link fence.

Wokandapix

Wokandapix

Student standing behind a chain link fence.

Sheridan Rowell

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






59 Views

 “I’m never gonna be the cool guy. I’m more the one who’s left out. Of all the characters at school, I am not the one who the story’s about. Why can’t someone just help me out and teach me how to thrive? Help me to more than survive.”

 

Struggling to fit in is one of the worst feelings a person can ever experience. It makes you feel alone, out of place, and unimportant. Nearly everyone has felt this way. A musical that showcases this struggle perfectly is Be More Chill by Joe Tracz and Joe Iconis.

 

At the beginning of the musical, we are introduced to Jeremy Heere, one of the main characters. He is one of the two school losers and is very unhappy with it. He struggles with how others view him, overthinking things such as being a junior on the school bus and how he looks when he gets nervous. After arriving at school, Jeremy is immediately targeted by Chloe Valentine, who is described as “the hottest girl in school,” along with Brooke Lohst, who is Chloe’s “best friend” and is described as “the second hottest girl in school.” Chloe is shown to be very controlling, with Brooke often being her victim. Jeremy is then targeted by Rich Goranski, the 5’5” bully of the school. Jeremy continues down the hallway and comes across a sign-up sheet for the school’s play, but passes up the opportunity out of fear of being bullied. He then is approached by his crush Christine Canigula, the theatre nerd of the school. When he fails at making conversation with her, he panics and runs away, then begins to criticize himself.

 

At lunch, we are introduced to Michael Mell, Jeremy’s best friend. He is the second school loser and is seemingly comfortable with it. He is very laid-back and doesn’t seem to care about how others view him. He and Jeremy get into a discussion about how humanity has stopped evolving, but it is put on pause by Jeremy noticing Christine signing up for the school play. This, along with Michael’s encouragement, prompts Jeremy to finally sign up. As soon as he does, he is teased by his peers.

 

Later, we are shown more of Christine at play rehearsal. She rambles to Jeremy about how much she loves play rehearsal, as well as how strongly she feels about the lack of strong female leads in theatre.

 

The next day, Jeremy encounters Rich in the bathroom. Rich tells him about the SQUIP (Super Quantum Unit Intel Processor) and how it taught him to “be more chill,” which essentially means that it made him cool in society’s eyes. The SQUIP is a supercomputer in the form of a pill the color of a wintergreen Tic-Tac. Rich states that the SQUIP will travel through your bloodstream until it latches onto your brain and tells you how to be cool.

 

Jeremy decides to take the SQUIP. As soon as it activates, it (in the voice of Keanu Reeves) begins to tell Jeremy what he’s “doing wrong,” including, but not limited to, slouching, stammering, and fidgeting, with most of these things being out of his control. The SQUIP leads Jeremy to a clothing store where he encounters Chloe and Brooke, where he then is told to fabricate a lie about another girl in order to get them to like him.

 

After a while of contemplation, Jeremy decides to fully give in to the SQUIP. He claims that he has spent his entire life being the loser and he states that he wants to feel what it’s like to not be the loser. Unfortunately, this involves cutting ties with Michael entirely and allowing the SQUIP to block Michael from being visible to Jeremy at all.

 

Act Two kicks off with a Halloween party at Jake Dillinger’s, the most popular guy in school, house. The party starts off well, but gradually begins to go wrong. Rich starts to exhibit strange behavior, including twitching, stammering, acting out in pain, and frantically asking people if they have any Mountain Dew Red. (Not Code Red. Mountain Dew Red was created in 1988 and was discontinued the same year.) Chloe takes Jeremy upstairs to try and force him into cheating on Brooke. Last, but not least, Michael shows up to warn Jeremy.

 

Jeremy runs away from Chloe and finds himself in the bathroom where Michael is hiding. Michael then confronts him about how he’s been ignoring him, but ends up warning him about how dangerous the SQUIP is, detailing how one of his online friends’ brother went insane trying to get it out of his head. Jeremy takes this as Michael being jealous because he doesn’t have a SQUIP and tries to leave. When Michael refuses to let him by, Jeremy calls him a loser and Michael gives in. Michael calling himself a loser is fine, but when it is used as an insult against him, it isn’t, especially coming from Jeremy. Michael then has an anxiety attack in the bathroom where he ponders why he is still alive along with the fact that he is now completely alone due to being replaced by something cooler.

 

The day after the party, the news breaks out that Rich set Jake’s house on fire. People assume that he did it because he was high, drunk, or gay, but he actually set the fire in an effort to destroy the SQUIP. The entire school spreads rumors about the event and pretends to care in order to gain popularity.

 

After a fight with his son, Jeremy’s father decides that he needs to fulfill his parental responsibilities and be there for his son instead of lazing about constantly and decides to go to Michael for help. Michael states that he isn’t friends with Jeremy anymore, but Mr. Heere convinces Michael to assist him. Meanwhile, Jeremy’s SQUIP convinces him that the only way he can be with Christine is if he SQUIPs the entire school.

 

On the night of the school play, Jeremy tries to tempt Christine into consuming the SQUIP. She rejects, telling him that she’d rather figure herself out on her own. This makes Jeremy realize what he’s done, but it’s too late. The cast of the play is already SQUIP’ed. Jeremy scrambles to figure out a way to shut the SQUIP off when it dawns on him: Mountain Dew Red. Rich had figured out that Mountain Dew Red was the only way to take down the SQUIP and that’s why he was so focused on finding some.

 

At the last second, Michael makes his entrance and appears with a bottle of Mountain Dew Red. Together, Michael and Jeremy battle against their out of control classmates. Finally, however, they are outnumbered. Jeremy is confronted by a newly SQUIP’ed Christine and is told that she will do anything he says. Thinking about this, he decides to make her drink the Mountain Dew Red. This action causes all of the SQUIPS to deactivate.

 

In the hospital, Jeremy is put in a room with Rich, who comes out as bisexual and allows himself to speak with his lisp now that the SQUIP isn’t around to electrocute him or make him hit himself in order to keep it all hidden. When they are released, they meet back up with their friends, which now includes both the popular kids and Michael. They all realize that they all have flaws and voices in their heads that tell them what’s wrong with them, but they know that the loudest voice of all is their own.

 

The musical is well known for its accurate portrayal of different kinds of anxiety disorders through Michael and Jeremy, as well as the portrayal of high school life from the perspective of a teenager. The score has sci-fi, pop, and rock influences, with one emotionally-driven piano track. The acting is outstanding and the costumes are amazing.

 

Be More Chill premiered at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ in 2015. After developing a large following, it was given a run Off-Broadway from July 26, 2018 to September 30, 2018. Later, it went on Broadway from February 13, 2019 to August 11, 2019.

Highlight reels, TV performances, behind the scenes videos, and rehearsal footage are all available online. The Original Cast Recording and the Original Broadway Cast Recording are both available on most streaming services.

 

“And there are voices all around, but you can never mute the sound. They scream and shout. I tune them out, then make up my own mind. Might still have voices in my head, but now they’re just the normal kind.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email