New York Magazine

Freaking Out About Be More Chill

How a viral sensation about high school, friendship, and an evil singing algorithm hopes to become Broadway’s next big thing.
From left, Will Roland, Britton Smith, Jason Tam, Jason SweetTooth William, Gerard Canonico, Lauren Marcus, George Salazar, Stephanie Hsu, Katlyn Carlson, and Tiffany Mann.

AT THE CENTER of the Lyceum Theatre, a Broadway house built in 1903, the Be More Chill set protrudes into its filigreed Beaux-Arts surroundings with concentric frames resembling the beveled outlines of an iPhone. The set has the sheen of a giant video screen, rigged with projections that display the circuitry and computer code essential to the musical’s plot and themes. You might wonder if a technologically advanced alien race had decided to build a headquarters at a historical landmark in midtown or if the internet itself has been made manifest in here—which, in a way, it has.

Based on Ned Vizzini’s novel of teenage suburban sci-fi discontent, Be More Chill first premiered at the Two River Theater in New Jersey in 2015. It ran for four weeks and then closed. But the internet latched on to the show’s cast album, which in turn inspired art and fan fiction. The album has since racked up hundreds of millions of streams. Be More Chill was the second-most-popular musical on Tumblr in 2017 and 2018, just behind Hamilton. Fans have rendered the songs in

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