Be More Chill, the Joe Iconis musical with a road-to-Broadway story nearly as surprising as its sci-fi teen comedy plot, has posted an Aug. 11 closing notice. The musical at the Lyceum Theatre will have played 30 previews and 177 performances when it swallows its final Squip.
“Pride massively understates what everyone at Be More Chill feels for this show,” producers Jerry Goerhing and Mike Mitri said in a statement. “Every step in our journey has been special and one-of-a-kind – just like every member of our company, creative team, and crew, and each fan who has supported us. Our time at the Lyceum Theatre has been a true honor and a joy. We are so excited to have been able to touch the hearts of our diverse audiences and hope to watch the show’s continued influence grow in years to come.”
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The closing notice is the latest in the annual Broadway shake-out purge that sees teetering productions shutting down after leaving the Tony Awards empty handed or short-sheeted. Since the June 9 awards ceremony, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, Hillary and Clinton and The Prom have posted earlier-than-expected closing notices (King Lear, whose star Glenda Jackson got snubbed of a nomination, beat everyone to the punch, closing on Tony day, nearly a month earlier than planned.)
Be More Chill got its start in 2015 at New Jersey’s Two River Theater, with a cast recording surprising everyone by becoming a viral hit, immensely popular with the tweens and teens the musical spotlights. With music and lyrics by Iconis and a book by Joe Tracz, based on the novel by Ned Vizzini, Be More Chill was directed by Stephen Brackett and choreographed by Chase Brock.
The viral success led to a sold-out Off Broadway limited engagement last summer, followed by the move to Broadway, where Chill opened March 10.
Despite the ready-made audience and mostly positive reviews, the production failed to garner much Tony appreciation, scoring only a single nomination (for Iconis’ score). Particularly surprising was the lack of acting nominations, notably for Will Roland’s lead performance and supporting role played by George Salazar, whose “Michael In The Bathroom” number was a song that gained so much internet buzz from the beginning.
But the “Bathroom” song had at least one final surprise left in it: During CBS’ Tony broadcast, host James Corden sang a parody version – “James In The Bathroom” – during which he was joined in the Radio City Music Hall men’s room performance by Josh Groban, Sara Bareilles and Neil Patrick Harris. The affectionate tribute was later criticized for failing to acknowledge or credit the parody’s source material, a lapse Corden amended the next day with a tweet calling “Michael In The Bathroom” his favorite song of the Broadway season.
The musical chronicles the adventures of a high school nerd (played by Roland) who finds instant popularity by ingesting a Japanese super-computer chip called a Squip that controls his thoughts and tells him everything to say and do in order to, as the title has it, be more chill. Salazar’s Michael character is the equally nerdy, though more defiantly so, best friend, who, in the character’s big song, finds himself secluded in the bathroom at a party, too shy and awkward to face the revelers without his suddenly popular lifelong pal by his side.
Iconis released the following statement in announcing the August closing:
“Be More Chill has never followed a conventional path. It’s a musical that has subverted expectations and caused a ruckus every step of the way. I’m beyond proud that our little underdog musical played for the better part of a year in New York City, and that half of that year was spent on Broadway. Having a show I care about play Broadway has been a dream of mine since I was a child. Do I wish we could’ve beaten the odds and played 45th street for five years? Yes. Am I aware that by making it to Broadway in the first place, we already beat the odds? Oh hell yes. In the last year I have been told by countless young people that our musical was their first experience in a theater. Our little musical not based on a brand, featuring original showtunes and a cast who reflect the world we live in has introduced so many young people to the theater and for that I am so beyond grateful. The support we’ve received from titans of the industry, from traditional theatergoers, and from people who never knew they liked musicals before hearing ‘Michael in the Bathroom’ has been the most remarkable thing. Be More Chill getting to Broadway was the culmination of thirteen years of very hard work and I feel such immense gratitude to everyone who has supported my stuff, both onstage and off, from the beginning.”
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