Charming and Chill
There is nothing revolutionary about the plot of Be More Chill. Jeremy, our lead, follows the classic “nerd who wants the girl” trope. Played in today’s world, the teens are obsessed with online porn, texting, and a want to be wanted by someone. In a desire to get the girl, Jeremy feels he must become cool and goes to extreme measures to do so with the help of technology. Along the way, he realizes that being cool is not as important as being authentic to himself. There’s also a house party where shenanigans and revelations occur. If someone were to tell me this was a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM), I would completely believe it.
Each member of the 10-person cast had moments to shine. Stand-outs include Maxwell Emmett Ward’s “a-dork-able” sensibilities as Jeremy. Ward’s chemistry with Jim Belden’s best friend/ pothead Michael made theirs the relationship I was rooting for the most. Ward and Belden’s duet toward the top of the show was a highlight performance of the night.
The popular girl trio of Jordyn Catanach, Alexis Larson, and Maggie Mae Sulentic found a wonderful harmony of Mean Girls meets Degrassi and were excellent supports to the show throughout. Sulentic’s portrayal of Jenna Rolan left me wanting to know more about Jenna in the best way.
The show could have benefitted from a larger ensemble; the size of the stage and how it was used often created an empty feeling in big “crowd” moments.
The choreography of the show didn’t quite land for me. Despite some innovative lifts and staging, often we left the world of 2019 high school abruptly into pretty but out of place spins and bends.
The lighting design felt sparse, failing to support the action on stage. This made it hard to focus on moments like Belden’s “Michael in the Bathroom,” a song so good in the musical theater cannon you will hear it at auditions and cabarets soon.
While this is the plot of every DCOM, there is nothing wrong with that. I remember rushing home on Fridays excited to catch the newest one when I was a teen. A fun and charming cast makes MMT’s Be More Chill a fun night out for every member of the family.