BWW Blog: The Squips Are Coming
As a BFA MT Freshman at the University of Memphis, I was so excited to learn that my department would be putting on the thrilling new musical Be More Chill. It is rare that a college production occurs while a show is transitioning to a Broadway stage; however, we are so fortunate to be performing such a relevant and high energy show.
For those of you who do not know about Be More Chill, it is musical comedy that focuses on an average high school boy, Jeremy, who desires to be more popular despite already having a close friend, Michael. There is a bully named Rich who tells Jeremy that he can obtain popularity and the love of his crush, Christine, by purchasing a Squip. A Squip is a computer that implants in your brain and will tell you what to do. Obviously, hijinks ensue once someone starts messing with untested technology. However, the outcome is a topical and vibrant musical adventure.
Many critics judge musicals that are based in high school unfairly. High school is usually the first time in a human's life when they decide where their moral compass lies. Deciding whether or not to bully someone is a foundational step in outlining someone's core values. The decisions that the characters make in Be More Chill might appear shallow or petty; however, they carry tones of serious moral dilemmas. This show deals with the issues of manipulation, abusive relationships, homophobia, drug use, the power of technology, and the lack of privacy in our modern world. There could not be higher stakes than turning the world into Squipped zombies.
This show at its core describes how everyone deserves to surround themselves with people who love and support them even if that means you might only have one or two true friends. It is about quality not quantity. If you are not surrounded by people that support who you truly are, do not change yourself. Leave that group, and find a community of people who will accept you without the assistance of a Squip. In the end, everyone deserves to be treated with respect even if their interests differ from your own. It really speaks to our current society that the only way we can be nice to those who are different is if we become opinion-less robots.
Another major point of the musical deals with the question of what success truly is. In this show once someone takes a Squip, they suddenly feel like they can accomplish anything. As a performers, we often feel like we are not enough or that we will never be able to accomplish our dreams, but I really think that this show displays that you don't need a magical answer to obtain self-confidence. The only answer to gaining genuine self-confidence is by accepting yourself and then allowing others to accept you. This show demonstrates serious circumstances through the colorful, high energy, and non-stop reality of high school.
I am so blessed to say that I got to be in a MainStage production during my first year of college, and I am blessed at being able to tell such an intricate story to other people my age. Thank you to everyone involved in this production and thank you to everyone who has given me opportunities to flourish on stage.