Ready to get squipped? The Asian premiere of Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz’s Be More Chill began performances July 25 at the New National Theatre Playhouse in Tokyo with a Japanese cast. After wrapping August 10, the show will continue to run in Fukuoka and Osaka.
Based on Ned Vizzini’s novel, the musical tells the story of average teenager Jeremy, who takes a pill purported to make people more chill—only to discover that the A.I. inside wants to take over the world. Stephen Brackett returns to direct, along with original Broadway producer Kumiko Yoshii.
The cast comprises Kota Yabu, Seishiro Kato, Sayuri Inoue, Yuya Kido, Akiyoshi Utsumi, Ruki Saito, Marika Dandoy, Ayaka Larrison, Bro.Tom, and Daisuke Yokoyama.
“I'm thrilled to be bringing Be More Chill to Japan as we've been dreaming of this moment since we first started working on the musical,” says director Brackett in a statement. “Be More Chill is a show that explodes with energy and heart, and we are really enjoying working with Kota Yabu in bringing our lovably neurotic hero Jeremy to life.”
“As one of the producers of the Broadway production, I am honored and thrilled to present the musical in Japan. I have a feeling Japanese audiences will embrace the style and themes of this wonderful show,” adds Yoshii.
Iconis shared his excitement for the production via Twitter, writing, “The weirdest thing currently happening that very few people know about is a whole-ass official production of @BeMoreChill happening in Japan.”
A fan replied with a sneak peek video of the run, presumably posted on a local news channel. The composer-lyricist responded, “Whoa!!!! This is the first footage I'm seeing of the show- amazing.”
After playing in Tokyo, the show will continue to Fukuoka August 20-21 at Canal City Theatre, and Osaka August 27-29 at Cool Japan Park Osaka WW Hall.
The production includes choreography by Chase Brock, orchestrations by Charlie Rosen, scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Bobby Frederick Tilley II, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau, projection design by Alex Basco Koch, sound design by Aki Takeda, hair and wig design by Yuko Sato, with musical direction by Mako Kuwabara.
Following its world premiere at Two River Theater and a subsequent Off-Broadway run at Signature Theatre, Be More Chill opened at the Lyceum Theatre March 10, 2019. The production, played 23 previews and 168 performances before closing August 11, earning a Tony nomination for Best Original Score. The musical opened in London in February 2020 before being suspended due to COVID-19. The show resumed performances in May 2021. A movie adaptation is in the works.