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Creating the Magic Ignites Imaginations

Creating the Magic Ignites Imaginations

Brian Hester reporting from The Lyceum Theater Broadway New York City

Picture this; a Broadway theater packed with young people, New York City students from grades elementary through high school. Not your typical Broadway demographic. But then again we are at The Lyceum and this presentation of, “Creating the Magic” does feature the mega hit musical Be More Chill, which has been wildly successful among a much younger Broadway audience. The original cast album went viral after the show had closed a limited run in NJ and the 100,000 daily Spotify streams helped propel the show to an off Broadway production and then on to Broadway. To date the albums has over 70 Million streams. The young crowd in attendance today is even more special then most though as these students are all invited guests being treated to a view to the entire spectrum of theater operations and along with that a view to potential careers in the Theater Capital of the world.

Students from all across New York City que up to see “Creating the Magic” featuring Be More Chill at the Lyceum Theater. The special invitation only program exposes NYC students to all of the aspects of a Broadway production from acting to wardrobe to stage management to live musicians and electricians. Photo by Brian Hester

The presentation entitled “Creating the Magic”, presented by Michael Presser and the The Board of Directors of Inside Broadway and featuring Be More Chill was masterfully moderated by Michael Presser himself. Mr. Presser called out all members of the team responsible for the production, from electricians to musicians, one group at a time, to explain their role in the overall production. Songs from the musical were interwoven with the hands on explanations which really seemed to grab the students attention.

Event host Michael Presser listens as Amanda “Bertie” Michaels, Production Stage Manager explains how stage ques works and demonstrates some of the almost 2,000 cues she calls out for each performance of Be More Chill. The manner in which she covered the cues and those that she selected to demonstrate packed a punch and kept the students on the edge of their seats. Photo by Brian Hester
Tiffany Mann, who portrays Jenna Rolan in the play belts out one big hits of the show, Smartphone Hour. Prior to preforming this song she spoke with audience members about not seeing any people that looked like her on the stage when she was growing up and how she hoped today’s’ event might help change that for the audience members. As I was seated in the crowd I must relay, I did overhear one young girl tell another ” I want to be like her”. Photo by Brian Hester

Event producers, Inside Broadway, receive funding from the New York City Council, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs & the NYC Department of Education. Producers would like to thank, The Lyceum Theatre Front of House Staff, Local 802 AFM, Actors’ Equity Association, Local One IATSE, and The Shubert Organization.

Beowulf Boritt, Scenic Design for Be More Chill demonstrates how the set he designed works and moves on and off the stage while also being light up by a series of computer and projectors. On his cue the set jumped to life by changing the light design. Students loved this display. Event moderator Michael Presser is stage left. Photo by Brian Hester
Be More Chill composer Joe Iconis, center and Orchestrator Charlie Rosen explain the creative development process as moderator Michael Presser listens. Photo by Brian Hester
Little heads bop up and down to the beat as the cast revs up the crowd with the Smartphone Hour. Photo by Brian Hester

After speaking with teachers and students from three different schools the reviews for today’s Creating the Magic event are overwhelmingly thumbs up. The students loved the explanations as well as the entertainment. Some even stated that they may want to look into theater experiences in the future. As I was fortunate enough to cover this event from the seats alongside the general audience I was able to witness the wonder on the faces of those present. I must say Inside Broadway & Be More Chill Thumbs Up indeed – You have all done your good deed for the day. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the smiling faces of these students below from PS 83 in Manhattan, just a handful of the over two thousand lives you all touched and changed for the better today.


Brian Hester is a New York City based freelance photographer covering any nature of event including but not limited to; breaking news, sports, entertainment, fashion, nature and whatever may catch his wandering eye. Since 2011 Brian, has been covering community events and high school sports for North Jersey Media Group and their successor Gannett USA Today. His clients include Rutgers University and Monmouth Athletics. ​You can see more of his work at

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