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C-C-C-C-Come On, Go Go to Bridge Players Theatre Company’s Production of Be More Chill

by Amber Kusching

Though it’s the middle of February, the word “chill” at Bridge Players Theatre Company means more than a feeling of coldness in the air. As the Urban Dictionary describes, chill also means “being more cool” and a “go with the flow” person. Chill is a cool word. And BPTC’s production of Be More Chill is just that: cool.

Jeremy is an average teenager- that is, until he finds out about “The Squip,” a tiny supercomputer that promises to bring him everything he desires: a date with his crush, an invite to the hottest party of the year, and a chance to survive his suburban New Jersey high school. But is being the most popular guy in school worth everything?

This new fan-favorite musical with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz is based on a novel with the same name by Ned Vizzini. The show premiered regionally in 2015 at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ before transferring Off-Broadway and then to Broadway in a six-month run. Since then, the show has been produced at the West End (London’s equivalent of NYC’s Broadway) and even has had productions in Japan and the Netherlands. There are even deals signed for a movie adaptation.

Be More Chill is a fresh, fun, sci-fi take about growing up, high school, and what we will do to get what we want. After BPTC’s concert production of the modern musical in March 2023, the theatre hosts the full production back in their home space for the first time since the COVID-19 shutdown. 

Something charming about BPTC’s production is that the show features a live pit orchestra, a rarity among community theatres in the area. The live music adds to the excitement and intimacy of the play. Also, the cast looks fantastic in a contemporary costume design by Jackie Reinhart and Jessi Meisel. There are bright neon colors, and many notes of pink from Chloe’s pink sparkle jacket to several ensemble members’ hair color, which perfectly connects to the show’s marketing. Furthermore, there are some lighting elements to multiple costumes including a bright cyber-geometric design on John Salera as The Squip’s tunic in Act 2. 

Speaking of lighting, the show’s lighting design by Bob Beaucheane stands out with vibrant LEDs and adds a sense of ambiance to the show. The set is bare bones, but the simplicity in the set design works for the production and the fanfare for the show does not rest on the show’s production elements as much as the notable actors’ performances. 

Felix Ramos plays the leading role of Jeremy, and perfectly embodies the character’s transformation from slouched loser to confident popular kid. His vocals are dynamic and he plays well off of Salera’s demanding performance as Jeremy’s Keanu Reeves-esque Squip. Ethan Rundell as Jeremy’s father Mr. Heele, who refuses to wear pants after his separation from his wife, uses his comedic energy to fuel the characters progression from careless father to doting yet demanding dad, especially with his loving song “The Pants Song” in Act 2.

Several other musical numbers stand out including Cassidy Remeniski’s rendition of Christine’s love ballad to theatre “I Love Play Rehearsal”, which almost every theatre-lover can relate to. Yeshua Irizarry’s vocals in Jeremy’s bully Rich’s song “The Squip Song” are strong and compelling. And a show-stopping number was notably “Michael in the Bathroom”, where Artemis de Groot as Jeremy’s left-behind buddy sorrowfully mourns the loss of his best friend to popularity. 

“As someone who has always felt like the underdog, this musical is definitely something I relate to, and feel most can!” Be More Chill director and choreographer Jessi Meisel writes in their Director’s Note in the playbill, “This story doesn’t just show the ‘hero’ getting the girl; but rather, it shows the consequences of the choices we make. It asks us to examine what our real goals are versus what they could be.” Meisel leads this dynamic cast with a spirit of empathy and collaboration, which is evident in several cast members’ bios in the playbill raving about the positive process of the production. 

SQUIP is an acronym for Super Quantum Unit Intel Processor, and you don’t need your own supercomputer in your brain to tell you to come and see this show. The show has an air of fun and relatability with a science fiction twist. There is something in this show for everyone and a strong feeling of inclusion with the diversity in the cast. 

Rounding out the cast are Lindesey Grelis as Chloe, Lindsey Kilchesty as Brooke, Lofn Klaus as Jake, and Ellorah Maeve as Jenna, with Michael Aquilino, Molly Connolly, Hannah Lee DeFrates, and Jackie Reinhart in the ensemble.  

Be More Chill runs now through February 24th at 36 E. Broad Street in Burlington, NJ. Tickets can be purchased at: Check it out. All the cool kids are doing it. 

The show includes some adult themes, so viewer discretion is advised. 


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