“Playing the character is literally a dream come true” says George Salazar of his character Michael in “Be More Chill” the new musical from Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz. Salazar’s Michael is the type of nerdy outsider audiences can’t help but root for. The actor sat down to discuss his performance and the show’s long journey to Broadway. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Salazar says that he fell in love with the character immediately because he “saw so much of myself” in Michael. Growing up mixed race, Salazar says “I didn’t see myself represented” in media, but “Be More Chill” has allowed the performer a chance to infuse so much of himself in the character. He admits that its grown to a point where “Michael is kind of like my soul mate.”
The diverse and young crowds at the Lyceum Theatre are incredibly vocal in their love of the show, but no moment has them applauding and cheering louder than Salazar’s Act 2 number “Michael in the Bathroom.” He gives some insider scoop on the beloved tune’s creation: the song’s current key was raised at the suggestion of Salazar in early rehearsals (“it heightens the stakes of the song”). Despite performing the number hundreds of times since the initial production at Two River Theatre in New Jersey in 2015, Salazar claims “it never gets old…I continue to find new moments.”
The fans eating up every high note skew surprisingly young for a Broadway audience. Salazar describes the generation as “one of the most impressive groupings of young people in the history of humanity.” They first started paying attention after the release of an original cast album which has been streamed over 150 million times. He calls the ensuing social media frenzy and outpouring of fan art “mind blowing.” Now that the show has landed on Broadway, those enthusiastic fans are showing up at the stage door in droves. He loves the opportunity to meet them because they too “see themselves in this character” so it “feels like more than just performing in a musical.” The actor sees it as a “poetic and full circle” moment, that as an adult he can provide representation and make people feel seen when he lacked that as a kid.
The actor gushes that he’s “never been prouder” of a project before. “I hope everybody leaves empowered to embrace their weirdness” he says, “and use their weirdness as a strength.”
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