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Broadway Shockers 2018: Be More Chill Gets to Broadway Through the Power of Social Media

Online fans bring a dormant musical back to life for its New York premiere.

As 2018 draws to a close, TheaterMania looks back on some of the most jaw-dropping stories of the year.

Will Roland and George Salazar in Be More Chill.
(© Maria Baranova)

Who knew that all it takes to get to Broadway was 100-million streams on Spotify?

OK, a sold-out off-Broadway run helps, too.

That's the unexpected story of Be More Chill, a literal "little musical that could." Writers Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz based their show on the YA novel by Ned Vizzini and premiered it at New Jersey's Two River Theater in 2015. It played a grand total of 28 performances and earned a cast recording…and then all but disappeared.

A year or so later, something strange happened: People on the Internet — mostly high and middle schoolers — started discovering Be More Chill through its album. Theater circles on social media platforms like Tumblr and Instagram exploded with fan art, fan fiction, and a whole lot of shipping. Over the course of several months, the album received millions of plays online. A college production, and a regional production, sold out their limited engagements.

Producer Gerald Goehring acquired the rights and brought the show to its rightful home in New York, where it played a summertime run at the Pershing Square Signature Center. That run promptly sold out. So did its extension. Bolstered by this success, Be More Chill announced that it's moving to Broadway's Lyceum Theatre in February.

You can catch up on the show's journey to off-Broadway in our five-part video series Be More Chill: The Upgrade below:







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