'Be More Chill' Sets Broadway Closing Date

MARIA BARANOVA
Stephanie Hsu and Will Roland in 'Be More Chill'

The cult teen musical, which became a viral sensation and earned a Tony nomination for Joe Iconis' original score, will play its last performance Aug. 11.

The annual pileup of post-Tony Awards casualties continues on Broadway, with Be More Chill becoming the latest production to leave the ceremony empty-handed and set a closing date soon after, in this case Aug. 11.

The teen musical about a nerdy high school outsider who finds instant popularity by ingesting a Japanese super-computer chip that controls his thoughts — at a cost — took an unconventional route to Broadway.

The production debuted at New Jersey's Two River Theater in 2015 and released an original cast recording on Ghostlight Records that fall, which became a viral sensation. It was streamed more than 150 million times even before the show transferred to a sold-out extended off-Broadway run last fall.

Producers Jerry Goehring and Michael F. Mitri then moved the musical to Broadway's Lyceum Theatre, beginning previews on Feb. 13 of this year, ahead of a March 10 official opening. But reviews were mixed, and despite the teenage superfans who make their appreciation heard throughout each performance, the $9 million production burned through much of its core audience in the first two months and has not had a weekly gross hit $500,000 since the end of April.

Last week's audience was just 64 percent of capacity, with modest cumulative box office to date of $10.1 million.

Landing just a single Tony nomination for Joe Iconis' original score clearly was a disappointment, with the failure to secure a best musical nomination meaning the show was shut out of the awards telecast. However, James Corden did perform one wildly popular number from the show, "Michael in the Bathroom," with reworked lyrics to describe the anxiety of hosting the awards, even if he failed to acknowledge the origin of the parody until the following day on social media.

The show features music and lyrics by Iconis and a book by Joe Tracz, based on the 2004 YA novel by Ned Vizzini. The production is directed by Stephen Brackett and choreographed by Chase Brock, with a talented young cast headed by Will Roland, George Salazar, Stephanie Hsu, Gerard Canonico and Jason Tam.

Producers Shawn Levy and Greg Berlanti last fall optioned the material to develop a movie adaptation through their respective banners, 21 Laps Entertainment and Berlanti Productions, though no timeline has been set.

"Be More Chill has never followed a conventional path," said Iconis in a statement. "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," Iconis continued. "Our little musical not based on a brand, featuring original show tunes 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 announcement of Be More Chill's closing date follows swiftly on the heels of yesterday's similar news about The Prom, which also has scheduled its final performance for Aug. 11. Other shows that moved up their closing dates after failing to translate Tony nominations into a win include the plays Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus and Hillary and Clinton

By the time it wraps, Be More Chill will have played 30 previews and 177 regular performances at the Lyceum. Iconis announced the closing news onstage after tonight's show.