Photo by Margaret Bull

Chilling in Nebraska

South Eugene drama students will perform new musical at international theater fest

South Eugene High School’s drama department is taking its show on the road this summer — all the way to Lincoln, Nebraska.

About 40 cast and crew members from SEHS will perform the new Broadway musical Be More Chill at the end of June at the 56th annual International Thespian Festival in Lincoln.

The play, featuring music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz, opened at New York’s Lyceum Theatre earlier this year after an off-Broadway run.

Students at South performed the play here in November; it was one of just two high schools on the West Coast to get rights to do the musical.

The play tells a sci-fi tale about teen angst and social pressure and is adapted from a 2004 novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini.

In the story, Jeremy, a friendless high school loser pushed around by bullies, acquires and takes a pill — it’s actually tiny computer called SQUIP, for Super Quantum Unit Intel Processor  — in hopes of becoming cool enough to win the heart of young Christine.

The International Thespian Festival runs June 24 through 29. It brings together some 4,000 high school students and teachers for a week of workshops and performances, with the additional benefit of exposure to college and theater professionals.

South will be one of 11 schools in the nation invited to perform at the festival’s main stage theater this year; the shows were selected by adjudicators who traveled around the U.S. and Canada and viewed student productions in the past year.

South Eugene Theater director Pat Avery says Be More Chill is the first play by Oregon students to be selected by the festival since 2011 and the first to be featured on the main stage since 2004.

To help raise money for students to attend the festival, South will stage three benefit performances of the play Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16. The show will be at South Eugene High School theater and will run at 2 pm and 7 pm June 15 and at 2 pm June 16. Tickets are $15, $10 for students and seniors, at