Ever since the cast album of New Jersey’s Two River Theater production of Be More Chill was released, listeners (predominantly of the teen variety) have latched on to the high-school narrative of the sci-fi musical written by Joe Tracz with a score by Joe Iconis, based on the novel by Ned Vizzini. Those fans have largely had to imagine the characters who sing these earworms—until now.
The sold-out Off-Broadway production injects life into the narrative and its full cast of characters, starring Dear Evan Hansen’s Will Roland as awkward high-schooler Jeremy Heere. “Jeremy is a profoundly empathetic person. I think he's also at his core a real weirdo,” says Roland. “Hopefully by the end of the show we see him learn to love that part of himself, which is all of himself.”
Roland joins the cast in this Be More Chill 2.0 version of the show, as does Jason Tam, who plays the SQUIP (the super-computer implanted in Jeremy’s brain to help him be more chill). “The Jason Tam version is very Keanu Reeves influenced by pop stars—there's something kind of glossy about him,” says Tam. “He's a best friend, he's a guide in the mythical ethos of storytelling. He's the fairy godmother-ish character that helps Jeremy.”
Of course, Jeremy’s actual best friend is Michael, played by George Salazar, who originated the role. He’s the “anti-social headphones kid,” says Salazar. “The Joes have written such a dynamic character. Michael is such a gift to get to be.”
Another foil to Jeremy is his crush Christine, played by SpongeBob SquarePants alum Stephanie Hsu. “She is the high-schooler who [is] not cool, but she’s not a complete ‘loser’—she knows her lane,” she says. “In the function of the story, she honors weirdness and her own individual truth in a way that Jeremy doesn’t have a hold of yet.”
An ensemble musical, the cast rounds out with other standout personalities in this fictional high school like Rich the bully (Groundhog Day’s Gerard Canonico), Chloe the alpha (Katlyn Carlson), Brooke the beta (Lauren Marcus), and Jenna the gossip (Tiffany Mann). All of them give us the dish on their characters in the video above.