This week I wanted to do something a little different, so I am shining a light on a fantastic theatre podcast: Broadwaysted. Every week, hosts Kimberley Cooper Schmidt, Bryan Plofsky and Kevin Jaeger introduce listeners to a fantastic person in the theatre community. The hosts and guests answer questions, and there are games with a theatre twist. Over 100 episodes are available, so you will find something to capture your interest. You can find the podcasts on iTunes and Spotify. I will be covering the July 17, 2018 episode this week.
Joe Iconis is one of the guests highlighted in this episode. Iconis is a writer and performer based in Manhattan. His musical phenomenon, Be More Chill, has over 80 million streams. Iconis’ song, “Broadway, Here I Come!”, was a standout from the second season of the TV show, Smash. Some of his work includes: Be More Chill, Things To Ruin and The Joe Iconis Rock-and-Roll Jamboree. They are all available as albums.
Jennifer Ashley Tepper is also featured in this episode. Tepper is the producer of Be More Chill. (The musical will make its Broadway debut in 2019. It completed its Off-Broadway run this past summer.) In addition, she is the Creative and Programming Director at Feinstein’s/54 Below. As an author, she writes The Untold Stories of Broadway book series. She is also the creator of the Jonathan Larson Project.
The hosts start the podcast by introducing Iconis and Tepper with puns about the musical. A host then talks about how each host occupies a different fan level of Be More Chill: Kimberley knows the show and the songs, while Kevin only knows some songs (he wanted to see the show blind so he didn't want to know the story). Bryan only knows the song titles he looked up for the introduction.
What drew Iconis to this story were the characters in the novel, Be More Chill, by Ned Vizzini. The characters just jumped out at him and he loved the sci-fi twist to the story. Iconis then talks about how people often told him that “this was the one” with the projects he worked on. However, he did not find his huge success until Be More Chill, when the cast recording started streaming on Spotify. This was how so many fans, especially teens, came to know the musical. Tepper then reveals how teenagers often say their favorite musicals are Hamilton and Be More Chill.
Now onto the first game. Kimberly calls it “Do You Want An Upgrade” (a play on one of the song titles in the musical). To start the game, Kimberley deals Lights of Broadway Show Cards. The object of the game is to say if you have an actor or a musical on the card, and then say if the next card will be an actor or a musical. If you are correct, you get to keep the cards, and if not, you don’t keep them. Iconis wins this game.
The next segment starts with Bryan asking Iconis and Tepper about their favorite musical. Iconis says his is Cabaret, while Tepper reveals that her favorite is Merrily We Roll Along. Iconis then poses the question back to the hosts. Bryan says his is Cabaret and Man of La Mancha, Kevin says his is Into the Woods, and Kimberley says hers is Sunday in the Park with George. Next, the group moves onto their favorite experience seeing a show. Tepper says she has many, and that they are all Iconis musicals on which she has worked. Iconis states that his are Little Shop of Horrors and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Kevin’s Corner is a popular segment on the podcast where Kevin asks highly searched questions based on his research on Wikipedia. He first asks Iconis and Tepper if they would adapt a musical version of Home Alone and “one, knowing the cast needs to include only adults, who would you cast; two, what would the musical be about; and three, what are songs you would use in the adaptation?” The second question is “what Broadway star’s name would you want to put in quotes?” The third question: “what are some of your best Halloween costumes you have had in your life?”
A second game is Heads Up, which again, uses the Lights of Broadway Show Cards. One player has a card on their head, and the rest of the group tries to get the player to guess the name of the person or musical on the card. When the timer goes off, the player gets to keep all of the cards they guessed correctly. Iconis wins this game as well!
I hope this introduced you to the great theatre podcast that is Broadwaysted. I hope it possibly peaked your interest in Be More Chill too! Do you have a favorite theatre podcast? Let us know!
(Photo by Maria Baranova)