Actor Jason Tam plays Squip in cult favorite ‘Be More Chill’
Jason Tam, the Broadway actor from Honolulu, is in the cast of a new cult favorite, “Be More Chill,” playing to untold sellouts and cheers, in a limited run through Sept. 23 at the Signature Theatre on 42nd Street.
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NEW YORK >> Jason Tam, the Broadway actor from Honolulu, is in the cast of a new cult favorite, “Be More Chill,” playing to untold sellouts and cheers, in a limited run through Sept. 23 at the Signature Theatre on 42nd Street.
I’ve been visiting The Big Apple, but alas, couldn’t get tickets to “Chill” because die-hard fans have scooped up all the seats already.
“Be More Chill,” with its wide appeal to geeks, has become a phenomenon thanks to the YouTube crowd and social media.
It’s hip, it’s wow, it’s now, with a revealing and relevant spotlight on mid-teens in mid-crisis about tween things that matter. The YouTube exposure (150 million views and counting) made the show’s score and cast hugely popular prior to its New York arrival in August.
The musical production — with songs by Joe Iconis, book by Joe Tracz, direction by Stephen Brackett and choreography by Chase Brock, based on the late Ned Vizzini’s young adult novel — has been an online sensation, with a following akin to the prebreakout run of “Dear Evan Hansen,” which had roots off-Broadway before becoming a mammoth box-office blockbuster and Tony Award-winner when it moved uptown to Broadway.
Will Roland, as nerdy Jeremy Heere, and George Salazar, as his only friend, are co-stars. Tam plays a character named Squip, who delivers the title tune, both spoken and sung. Locals know Tam well; he began his Broadway trek as a child actor found locally and cast as Gavroche in “Les Miserables,” who has emerged as one of Hawaii’s enduring standouts on the Great White Way. Over the years, his credits include “A Chorus Line” (in which he redefined the Paul character), “K-Pop,” “Lysistrata Jones,” “If/Then” and the NBC reboot of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in which he played one of the disciples.
James Tam, lawyer father of Jason, already has a ticket to see “Be More Chill” in September. …
>> Lunch patter: Had lunch with Johnson Enos; the Hawaii-based creator, writer and director of “Honu by the Sea,” the family musical with an environmental message, has been in New York to consult with a fashion designer to upgrade a major costume for his ever-changing show.
He also is attempting to secure a New York director-choreographer for an upgraded, larger version of “Honu,” for a potential run in late 2019 in Hawaii.
“We’re thinking of either Blaisdell Concert Hall or Hawaii Theatre,” Enos said of his still-emerging show, previously staged at the Hawaii Theatre Center, and still touring, in abbreviated, smaller-cast renditions, in Japan.
We also exchanged chit-chat about prospects for other shows in or about Hawaii, including a Broadway-bound vehicle with kokua from behind-the-scenes islanders; the likely closure of a long-running Waikiki act; a possible new tenant in a major Waikiki showroom. When there’s gossip, there’s likely some truths to follow. …
Enos also made time to catch Bette Midler in “Hello, Dolly!” a second time at the Shubert Theatre, where it just closed Saturday. Yep, I finally saw her, too, and will share a few comments later. …
>> Ukulele talk: ‘Twas a nice surprise, to see and hear Ethan Slater, a Tony nominee, strum the uke in “SpongeBob Squarepants,” the improbable cartoon-based musical, playing at the Palace Theatre. Then again, wouldn’t a resident of Bikini Bottom, who lives in a pineapple-shaped home, play an ukulele? …
>> Plenty of poke: No Aloha Poke shop here, but there’s no shortage of spots selling poke bowls. Spotted a handful in Manhattan, with open market vendors also offering the island favorite. Spam musubi has been available for years, but has not yet earned “trending” status. …
JADES OF ALL TRADES
In last week’s column about casting for I’m a Bright Kid Foundation’s “The Wiz,” due at Paliku Theatre, we erred and apologize; Jade Stice will play Glinda, and Jade Bright will be a pit singer. …
And that’s “Show Biz.”…
Wayne Harada is a veteran entertainment columnist. Reach him at 266-0926 for email@example.com.