If you know me, I’m really picky about my high school-set musicals. Dear Evan Hansen triggered me, Mean Girls didn’t impress me, and Heathers has never sat well with me unless it’s the original movie. So when I heard of the viral sensation known as Be More Chill, I gave a few tracks off the Two River cast album a shot, and I loved what I heard. I felt like I could relate to these characters just from the songs, but I was dying to see them all in context. When the show announced it was going to have a NYC engagement, I bought my ticket immediately. Needless to say, I found myself loving the show to bits. It was fun, it was creative, the sci-fi elements made the high school elements fresh and exciting, and most importantly, I saw myself in the main characters. Unlike all the other high school-set musicals I’ve seen, watching Be More Chill I finally felt like I could belong in the world of the show. Since I could go on and on about how I love everyone in this delightfully weird little musical, I’m just going to talk about the two I see myself as a fusion of: Christine and Michael.
Stephanie Hsu, the original Karen the Computer in SpongeBob Squarepants the Musical, plays Christine Canigula in Be More Chill. Christine is the resident theatre geek of the show, and is Jeremy’s dream girlfriend. One of her two big songs in the musical perfectly sums up why I love and relate to her character. “I Love Play Rehearsal” is Christine at her most Christine, singing about her love of being in shows, learning lines, playing different characters, and her hopes and dreams. She also offhandedly mentions she has “a touch of ADD,” which I adore; I too have ADD and to hear a female character explicitly say their diagnosis, even offhandedly, is refreshing. I love this song so much because she is so candid about her passions in life – “I am passionate a lot” is one of the lines in the song that I could easily use as my Twitter bio it hits home so hard. Throughout the show, Christine is consistently kind and sweet to Jeremy, even as she navigates her awkward relationship with Jake and realizes her feelings for Jeremy. She’s a good friend, hilarious, and takes her time expressing her feelings. The fact that Christine, a socially awkward drama club kid is the main romantic interest of the show’s protagonist instead of one of the more traditionally “popular” girls like Brooke or Chloe, is a blessing on all our lives. We need more leading ladies like her.
Undoubtedly the most popular character in the entire BMC fandom is Jeremy’s best bud, Michael Mell. Definitively embodied by George Salazar, Michael is the nerdy best friend trope taken to levels rarely explored in other teen-centric media. Michael is a video game nerd who proudly says that guys like him and Jeremy are “cool in college” and that “there’s no better time in history to be a loser”, sure, but he’s also a foodie, a stoner, and someone with relatable anxiety/depression problems. The most beloved and popular song from the show, “Michael in the Bathroom,” is a mini-musical unto itself, and a PERFECT encapsulation of what it feels like when you have anxiety and a massive fear of being abandoned by people you consider your friends, and the worst possible outcome happens and you just have to lock yourself in the bathroom and have an ugly cry session until you feel marginally better. Every time I hear this song I get very emotional. No other show tune that purportedly talks about the same mental health issues affects me the way this song does, and should this transfer to Broadway, George Salazar is a guaranteed Best Featured Actor Tony winner for his performance of this song alone. Michael Mell is beloved for exceptionally good reason, and he’s a character I’d love to be friends with – I’m already mostly like him in real life, so if you’re looking for your very own non-binary lesbian Michael Mell…
Long story short, these are only TWO of the characters in Be More Chill that I find endearing and relatable, and their emotional journeys are some of my favorites to follow in the musical. If you can successfully nab a lottery or cancellation ticket to see Be More Chill during the rest of its sold-out run, absolutely savor every second. I hope you walk out relating to the characters as much as I did.
(Photo credit Maria Baranova)