The Justin Braun-directed production of “Be More Chill” has ended its six-night run at the Department of Theatre & Dance’s Mainstage Theatre at the University of Memphis. The reviews tell attendees what they already knew — that the U of M students performed the Broadway musical with style and aplomb.
A few highlights from Chris Davis’ review in The Memphis Flyer:
I don’t review as many college shows as I used to once upon a time. It’s hard for an outside observer to know enough about student needs to comment too specifically without running the risk of affirming a bad habit or accidentally trampling over personal growth. But a lot of good, progressive-minded work happens on campus and, because of its weird history and potentially bright future, I wanted to write more than I normally might about this one. If nothing else, watching Be More Chill reminded me that student actors rarely get to play characters roughly their own age, living right now, with such familiar and (sigh, yes) relatable problems. Even if the show is something less than the sum of its songs, it’s a great fit for the school and for the moment, and a tremendous opportunity to see a lot of young talent swinging for the fences.
And a few highlights from Jane Schneider’s review in The Daily Memphian:
The show proved to be a big hit — both weekends sold out — as well as a huge learning experience for students. Collaborative discussions with the set production and lighting/sound crew led to a futuristic set, resembling sized-up motherboards that frame the stage along with a metallic gate that reveals a tunnel through which the SQUIP makes his flashy entrances. The show could have filled a larger venue, but associate professor Jacob Allen says that’s not the point.
“We care about the rehearsal process, because that’s where the learning takes place,” Allen said. “We’re most excited about the level of work being done, regardless of how many people see the show. Our mission is to train well-schooled professionals to share their art with everyone.”
The Department of Theatre & Dance’s next performance is “Shaming JANE DOE,” April 4-6 and 11-13, each night at 7:30 at the U of M’s Mainstage Theatre.
— Phillip Tutor, CCFA media coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org