October 28, 2018

George Salazar singing "Michael in the Bathroom" from Be More Chill by Joe Iconis

This has been a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good week that I don't think it benefits any of us to rehash at the moment. So I want to focus instead on something that gives me hope.

This is my daughter's buddy, George, singing from his cabaret show "Two Player Game" with partner/songwriter Joe Iconis. My daughter became acquainted with both George and Joe through the musical Iconis wrote: Be More Chill. Based on a Young Adult novel written by the late Ned Vizzini, BMC was produced off-off-off-off Broadway (specifically, in New Jersey) in 2015.

It got decent reviews, but no interest in taking it to the big leagues. But they were smart enough to release an original cast recording, which caught the interest of kids like mine, who love musical theater. They bought the cast album, streamed it over 170 million times, they shared bootleg copies of the show, created their own YouTube versions of songs, their Tumblr fandom is second only to Hamilton in activity and those young people demanded another production of it. In 2018, they got it. George and other original cast members reprised their roles off-Broadway. They did so well, thanks to the groundswell of these teens who wanted to see it succeed that before the show's run was over, it was announced that BMC will be produced on Broadway beginning in February of 2019. That kind of evolution for a musical is incredibly rare, given the costs of launching productions. But that response from young people (and to his credit, George was very generous and encouraging to these aspiring theater geeks like my kid, who would put up their own versions of these songs online) gave the producers confidence.

But we're not done with Be More Chill either. The night that my kid and I got to see George and Iconis perform "Michael in the Bathroom" live, it was announced that the rights to the show have been sold for a feature film, produced by Shawn Levy and Greg Berlanti ("Stranger Things").

What does that mean? I'm not sure. Other than to remind you that engaged young people can do a lot. They can make a difference. They can organize and coordinate. They can change the direction being taken if they're listened to.

If you have young people in your life, I hope you challenge them to be as engaged about the direction the country is going in as mine was about seeing performers she had befriended succeed all the way to Broadway. Maybe it's time to listen to them instead of the same tired old talking points that these jokers below will trot out.

ABC's "This Week" — Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX); FiveThirtyEight Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver. Panel: ABC News' Mary Bruce, Republican Strategist Alex Castellanos, Democratic Strategist Karen Finney, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member Kim Strassel, and Fox News Political Analyst Juan Williams.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Reps. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, and Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M. Charlie Sykes; David French of National Review. Panel: Erick Erickson, editor, The Resurgent; Mike Murphy, Republican strategist; Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report; and Kristen Welker, NBC News.

CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Chris Coons, D-Del.; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. Panel: Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief, The Atlantic; Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent, Slate; Lanhee Chen, Hoover Institution research fellow, Stanford University; and Susan Page, Washington bureau chief, USA Today.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Tom Steyer, president of NextGen America; Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass.; Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director. Panel: Jen Psaki, former Obama White House communications director; Nina Turner, president, Our Revolution; Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush; and David Urban, former strategist, Donald J. Trump for President.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" — Gen. Michael Hayden (ret.), USAF; former director, CIA; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Stephen Hadley, former U.S. deputy national security advisor/U.S. National Security adviser (Bush administration, 2001-2009); and Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (Obama administration, 2009-2013).

CNN's "Reliable Sources" — Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post; Matt Lewis, The Daily Beast; and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania; CNN media analyst Bill Carter; A.G. Sulzberger, publisher, The New York Times; and Penelope Abernathy, Knight Chair in journalism and digital media economics, University of North Carolina.

"Fox News Sunday" —Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; Stivers, Lujan. Panel: former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board; Liz Marlantes, The Christian Science Monitor; and Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service.

So what's catching your eye this week?

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