Billboard is exclusively premiering "Michael in the Bathroom" from the original Broadway cast recording of Be More Chill, along with a video of featured actor George Salazar from the session, today (May 2).
Earlier this week, composer Joe Iconis scored his first Tony nomination, for best original score, for the musical. To its legions of fans — and, really, anyone paying attention to the current Broadway season — the story of Be More Chill's journey to Broadway is practically musical theater legend: a year and a half after closing its inaugural production in New Jersey, the show gained traction online, with fans, among other things, discovering YouTube videos of its stars.
One of those videos features Salazar singing what has become Be More Chill's most famous anthem, "Michael in the Bathroom" (Salazar plays Michael Mell, best friend to the show's protagonist; his big number comes in Act 2 of the show, when his friend has abandoned him at a Halloween party). Nearly two years later, it's reached over 3.5 million views on YouTube -- not exactly typical for a random video from a then not-yet-even-on-Broadway show.
Thanks to that clip (and his visceral live performance in the show), Salazar has attracted a kind of super-fanbase -- no doubt eager to hear "Michael in the Bathroom" 2.0, recorded for Be More Chill's original Broadway cast album, out digitally this Friday (May 3).
Back in 2014, when he was working with Iconis on the Be More Chill workshop, Salazar recalls the song was very different. "It used to be really low — in my voice at least — and I felt uncomfortable with how low it felt, like it didn't pack a punch in that register of my voice," Salazar says. "We tried it up a half step, and then another half step, and this key Joe originally had written it in is no longer the key — and it's now a much higher and more difficult and terrifying key to sing every night!"
As Salazar puts it, Iconis' willingness to adapt the song to his actor's talents — and not to force things the other way around — is indicative of his overall approach as a composer. "He's allowed me, and all of us, to find a way to make these songs our own, in a way that allows our performances of them to feel more authentic to the audience," he says. "Which I think allows the songs and the characters to be way more relatable to the audience as well."
Listen to "Michael in the Bathrom" one day early below.