Joe Iconis exploded out of N.Y.U. on a wave of hope. A songwriter with a knack for story and a taste for strange, he won the Jonathan Larson grant for early career composers. He scooped up the Kleban prize for most promising lyricist. He was hailed by Newsday as “ginormously talented.”
The descriptors piled up until they made no sense any more. Emerging. Rising. Up-and-coming.
But something wasn’t clicking. Year after year he wrote song after song, show after show. Small-scale productions came and went; big-time producers did not.
He sustained himself on determination. And side jobs. And borrowed money.
But mostly, he sustained himself with an unusual artistic collective — the Family, an evolving cohort of multitalented misfits (their word) — that, for more than a decade, has plied basements and barns, singing Mr. Iconis’s rock- and pop-influenced songs to a growing audience of fans.
It is fandom that is finally propelling Mr. Iconis to Broadway.
The sci-fi high school musical “Be More Chill,” for which he wrote music and lyrics, was left for dead in New Jersey after a tepid review from The New York Times. Resurrection has come thanks to young enthusiasts, who created YouTube videos using the show’s music, shared fan art on Tumblr, and have streamed the cast album more than 200 million times.
The show, adapted from a young adult novel by Ned Vizzini about a nerdy teenager who swallows a pill-sized supercomputer that promises to improve his life, is now in previews at the Lyceum Theater; about half the cast are performers who are part of Mr. Iconis’s crew.
Now he is spending his nights where he has long wanted to be, in the row of creators cradling laptops and binders at the back of a Broadway theater, polishing the show before it opens March 10. On his right forearm he sports a tattoo of a mule. “Hairy and stubborn,” he explains. “Just like me.”
Mr. Iconis, 37, says his life changed forever when, as a 6-year-old growing up on Long Island, he saw his first Off Broadway musical: the original production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” a zany rock romp about a blood-craving, flesh-eating houseplant. “I was a little kid who was really scared — I would always cry in movies, and I never wanted to be away from my parents,” he said. “But ‘Little Shop’ didn’t scare me. It made me feel alive.”
Each year for his birthday, and sometimes on holidays, he would see another show. He tracked theater seasons by reading newspaper ads; he tried to estimate box office grosses by calling ticket sellers to ask about seat availability.
He loved theater. But he hated performing. “I was always terrible,” he said. “I knew I was terrible. And it terrified me.”
So he took to the piano, writing songs, directing shows, doing anything that allowed him to make theater without being center stage. “I both gravitate toward and identify with people who feel like they don’t quite fit in,” he said. In college and grad school, both at New York University, he zeroed in on writing, and for his thesis in 2005, he crafted a musical about a garage band, “The Black Suits,” that seemed to have promise.
“I thought, ‘This show will be produced Off Broadway, it will be well received, it will go to Broadway, and this is how I will enter into the musical theater world,’” he said.
The universe had other ideas. And Mr. Iconis, a prolific writer, was impatient to get his songs heard.
So in 2006 he staged a concert at Ars Nova, a small but prestigious theater that seeks to develop early-career artists. He thought of “Things to Ruin,” as he called it, as a theatrical version of a rock album that never existed. He was the de facto frontman, playing the piano and occasionally singing, and he found that he now relished that. But his shows were also a showcase for his friends.
The cabaret scene in New York was dominated by solo acts and celebrities, but Mr. Iconis wanted something different — a sort of troupe of troubadours, most of them unknown. He had inspirations in mind — the filmmaker Robert Altman, for one, but also the Muppets, because, in Mr. Iconis’s fervid imagination, they are the model of an ensemble that successfully integrates friendship and theatermaking.
There were maybe 10 participants to start — among them Jason Tam and Jason SweetTooth Williams, both of whom are in the cast of “Be More Chill,” Mr. Tam as the Squip (that’s the supercomputer) and Mr. Williams in three roles, including a high school drama teacher.
By last Christmas, when Joe Iconis and Friends performed what are now their annual Christmas shows at Feinstein’s/54 Below, directed by his longtime collaborator John Simpkins, there were 65 performers — onstage, interspersed among the audience, even caroling in the bathrooms.
“We were a bunch of rambunctious punk kids that loved musical theater but maybe didn’t quite fit into the quintessential musical theater mold,” Mr. Tam said. “But we found each other and we found Joe Iconis.”
Many of his songs are clever and raw, like “Everybody’s at the Bar Without Me,” a furious ballad about feeling left out, and “The Goodbye Song,” the raucous singalong which closes most shows, inspired by a dying father bidding farewell to his child, but also weaving in affectionate allusions to E.T.’s return home in the great 1982 Spielberg movie.
In the early years, the concerts were mostly at the Laurie Beechman Theater, a basement space underneath a Times Square restaurant, and at Joe’s Pub, part of the Public Theater. In recent years, the main performances have been over Labor Day weekend at Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires, and in December with a series of Christmas-themed shows at 54 Below, but there have been lots of others — even a private party attended by James Earl Jones.
“It feels like this crazy circus that has followed him and helped put the music out there and spread the word about what he does,” said Lauren Marcus, who met Mr. Iconis when she was at N.Y.U., sang in one of his earliest concerts, and then married him at a ceremony followed by a jamboree.
The performances are silly and celebratory and self-referential. The recent Christmas show included jokes about “making people go viral” (an allusion to “Be More Chill”), and managed to be at once ever-so-winkingly politically incorrect and super-woke. (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” featured an interpolated exchange between the two performers about the gender politics of the song.)
Over the years, artists have come, and gone, and come again. “The more I met people, the more it started to become this idea — like I’m driving a bus, and I would tell people to hop on, and they could stay as long as they want to,” Mr. Iconis said. “The whole Family idea is loose enough to accommodate the lives of working artists — it needed to allow people to come and go as their life allowed.”
Some are on Broadway — Eric William Morris, a longtime member of the Family who portrays an addled bartender in the Christmas shows, is now starring in a musical adaptation of “King Kong” — but many, like Mr. Iconis, have long been waiting for a big break.
“We shared that feeling — when is this going to happen, and should we just go be investment bankers?” Mr. Williams said. “What got him and all of us through these struggling times were these concerts that we did together.”
There’s been some blowback. “I definitely have a reputation of being very loyal, and that’s important to me — I love creating art with artists I have a history and a relationship with,” Mr. Iconis said. “But there was this notion of me as a frat boy working with his college friends. People got so insane about this idea of me just working with my buds.”
He is unapologetic about wanting to advance his collaborators, and not simply allow them to be replaced by “someone who was on a TV show in 2003,” which is how he often sees theater casting. “Many people have performed my stuff brilliantly for years, and I feel like it’s my responsibility to do whatever I can to help,” he said.
George Salazar, an actor who was featured in a Broadway revival of “Godspell” when he met Mr. Iconis, started singing in his concerts, and is now starring in “Be More Chill” as the protagonist’s best friend; his emotional rendition of the show’s big number, “Michael in the Bathroom,” has made him an internet sensation.
“The Family is a group of misfits,” Mr. Salazar said, “but the things that make us strange and different are the very things Joe enjoys.”
Mr. Iconis likes to write in public spaces — coffee shops and bars — away from the piano, focusing on lyric and drama, and letting that drive melody. He has been prolific, helping to create 10 full-length musicals, but has also been increasingly disappointed that none found commercial success, and at times has even wondered whether he should try to convert one of his side jobs, graphic design, into a full-time career.
“He’s had a tough time getting shows on, because people don’t know where to place his shows — they have a childlike exuberance for adults,” said Julianne Boyd, the artistic director of Barrington Stage.
He is culturally omnivorous, and often turns to musicals or films to explain his own feelings. Asked about his frustration, he cites a scene in “Boogie Nights” when the porn star protagonist realizes he is not going to get where he wanted, and a moment in “Synecdoche, New York” when a character buys a house on fire, knowing it might kill her.
But one doesn’t have to look far to see how taxing his long journey has been: His breakout song, “Broadway, Here I Come!,” an oft-covered number featured on the NBC television series “Smash,” is, at its most literal, about someone hoping to get to Broadway who contemplates suicide.
“I never stopped working, and I never stopped doing concerts, but it started to feel like there was a bit of doom hanging over everything, and then I started to see other people now coming up, and they were the next big things, and I was passed over,” he said. “After a while it started to feel exhausting.”
He was introduced to “Be More Chill” by his agent, who suggested that he and the book writer, Joe Tracz, take a look at the novel.
From the beginning, members of the Family have been part of the development process. The Broadway cast includes not only Mr. Tam, Mr. Williams, Ms. Marcus and Mr. Salazar, but also stars Will Roland, who as an N.Y.U. student in 2008 had a cameo in the Christmas show.
And one of the show’s producers, Jennifer Ashley Tepper, was a college student interning at the York Theater Company when she stumbled across an Iconis demo tape; she was wowed, and has been helping produce his concerts and shows for the last decade. “The path has been hard,” she said. “There was one night when I was so upset about a bad review a show of Joe’s got that I threw a glass out a window.”
“Be More Chill,” directed by Stephen Brackett, had its initial production at Two River Theater in New Jersey; Mr. Iconis and his collaborators thought it was going well, but after The New York Times disagreed, that was the end of that. “We spent nearly two years trying to get producers and regional theaters interested, and it was very clear no one was,” Mr. Iconis said. So he agreed to license the show for community productions, and many signed up; since June of 2017, R&H Theatricals has issued 145 licenses for the show.
Among those who licensed the show was Jerry Goehring, the director of the theater arts program at a Connecticut college, Sacred Heart University. He was startled at how quickly the school’s production, which he directed, sold out, and how many people traveled from afar to see it, so he optioned the rights.
Last summer, Mr. Goehring and Ms. Tepper rented space Off Broadway to stage a commercial run of the show. That, too, sold out, with throngs of young people defying the critics and flocking to the show. So Broadway, here they come.
And now that Mr. Iconis is a Broadway composer, the theater world is opening to him further.
Emboldened by “Be More Chill,” which is selling well in early previews, Ms. Tepper is planning this week to announce a commercial Off Broadway production of another Iconis show, “Broadway Bounty Hunter,” about an out-of-work actor who finds a job hunting criminals. It stars Annie Golden, who, although more than a generation older than Mr. Iconis and his college friends, is one of his most loyal collaborators.
He has two more high-profile works in process: “The Untitled Unauthorized Hunter S. Thompson Musical,” commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse, with a Tony-winning director, Christopher Ashley, attached; and “Punk Rock Girl,” a jukebox musical featuring songs popularized by female musicians.
“The dream is that it’s a show done by school groups, and that it would be impossible not to cast the strangest kids — the kids who would normally do tech,” Mr. Iconis said. “That was my guiding principle — to write roles for the weird kids."
As he watches “Be More Chill” through the preview process, he is obviously nervous, aware that critics still may not embrace his work. But he is determined to use the energy surrounding this show to fuel his other projects.
“You can use your theater cred to do film or TV or music, but I’m just not interested,” he said. “The thing I want to do is have musicals running in theaters, hopefully close to, or on, Broadway.”B:
黄大仙灵签抽签摇一摇【柳】【戴】【雪】【超】【得】【意】【的】。 【还】【是】【她】【聪】【明】，【早】【前】【就】【雇】【人】【跟】【踪】【自】【己】【和】【慕】【厉】【桀】，【留】【下】【了】【许】【多】【的】【美】【好】【合】【影】。 【果】【然】【吧】，【现】【在】【这】【不】【就】【用】【到】【了】【吗】？ 【她】【发】【上】【去】。 【以】【路】【人】【的】【口】【气】，【描】【述】【哪】【天】【她】【在】【哪】【里】【偶】【遇】“【柳】【戴】【雪】”【和】【慕】【厉】【桀】，【而】【她】【有】【个】【朋】【友】【刚】【好】【又】【在】【哪】【里】【拍】【下】【另】【外】【一】【些】【照】【片】，【两】【人】【真】【是】【郎】【才】【女】【貌】，【非】【常】【的】【和】【谐】【般】【配】【呢】。 【怕】【有】【人】
【翟】【家】【年】【却】【是】【一】【颗】【平】【常】【心】。 【在】【外】【面】，【一】【个】【镇】，【少】【的】【也】【有】【几】【千】【人】。 【要】【是】【大】【镇】，【可】【得】【上】【万】【乃】【至】【十】【万】【以】【上】【了】！ 【不】【过】【这】【工】【胡】【古】【镇】【加】【起】【来】【也】【不】【足】【一】【千】【人】。 【一】【千】【人】……【翟】【家】【年】【在】【混】【乱】【区】，【以】【一】【己】【之】【力】，【也】【不】【是】【没】【杀】【过】。 【对】【他】【而】【言】，【拿】【丈】【母】【娘】【来】【要】【挟】【自】【己】，【这】【些】【人】【就】【跟】【混】【乱】【区】【那】【些】【人】【没】【啥】【区】【别】。 【皆】【可】【杀】！ “
《【花】【涧】【肆】【记】》【历】【时】【两】【个】【半】【月】【的】【时】【间】【结】【束】，【由】【于】【签】【约】【上】【架】，【加】【速】【了】【更】【新】【速】【度】，【也】【治】【愈】【了】【懒】【癌】【晚】【期】【病】【症】。 【由】【于】【是】【写】【了】【一】【个】【寝】【室】【四】【个】【女】【孩】【各】【自】【的】【故】【事】，【所】【以】【时】【间】【线】【可】【能】【有】【些】【不】【太】【清】【晰】，【但】【是】【已】【经】【很】【努】【力】【的】【在】【捋】【顺】【时】【间】【了】，【希】【望】【各】【位】**【爱】【可】【以】【多】【加】【理】【解】。 【以】【至】【于】【为】【什】【么】【要】【写】【四】【个】【故】【事】，【四】【个】【女】【孩】，【其】【实】【最】【初】【我】【也】【没】【有】【想】黄大仙灵签抽签摇一摇【云】【未】【叹】【道】：“【一】【过】【黄】【河】，【哪】【里】【还】【有】【户】【部】？【一】【过】【黄】【河】，【只】【有】【兵】【部】【的】【事】【情】【了】。” 【周】【南】【听】【闻】【此】【言】，【浑】【身】【一】【震】，【背】【上】【已】【然】【惊】【出】【了】【一】【身】【冷】【汗】。【当】【下】，【周】【南】【面】【如】【死】【灰】，【不】【过】【心】【中】【对】【大】【宋】【文】【化】【的】【坚】【不】【可】【摧】【还】【是】【笃】【定】，【当】【下】【坚】【定】【说】【道】：“【周】【某】【承】【认】，【谋】【划】【虽】【然】【有】【些】【波】【折】，【不】【过】【如】【若】【施】【行】，【最】【终】【还】【是】【必】【然】【会】【成】【功】【的】——【只】【是】【时】【间】【长】【一】【些】【罢】
【然】【后】，【某】【个】【沙】【雕】【的】【宿】【主】【就】【开】【始】【了】【漫】【长】【的】【等】【待】【之】【路】，【目】【的】【只】【有】【一】【个】——【等】【待】【洗】【澡】【水】。 【云】【舒】【约】【莫】【着】【已】【经】【过】【去】【了】【两】【个】【小】【时】，【但】【是】【她】【看】【了】【一】【眼】【门】【口】【的】【地】【方】，【还】【是】【啥】【也】【没】【看】【到】，【连】【个】【人】【影】【都】【没】【有】。 【魔】【界】【的】【晚】【上】【黑】【漆】【漆】【的】，【特】【别】【的】【吓】【人】，【有】【一】【种】【到】【处】【都】【有】【别】【人】【的】【冤】【魂】【在】【漂】【浮】【着】【的】【感】【觉】，【她】【捧】【着】【自】【己】【的】【一】【张】【脸】，【感】【受】【着】【四】【周】【传】【过】
【屋】【子】【里】【顿】【时】【响】【起】【了】【一】【个】【女】【人】【的】【声】【音】，【顾】【瑜】【霓】【仔】【细】【地】【去】【辨】【别】，【怎】【么】【说】【呢】，【顾】【瑜】【霓】【觉】【得】【这】【个】【声】【音】【就】【像】【是】【置】【身】【森】【林】【里】【面】【猛】【然】【间】【听】【到】【的】【毒】【蛇】【捕】【捉】【猎】【物】【的】【声】【音】【一】【样】，【都】【会】【在】【不】【知】【不】【觉】【中】【让】【人】【丢】【掉】【性】【命】。 “【这】【位】【女】【士】，【咱】【两】【见】【过】【吗】？” 【顾】【瑜】【霓】【觉】【得】【这】【个】【人】【和】K【的】【前】【首】【领】【一】【定】【有】【着】【千】【丝】【万】【缕】【的】【联】【系】，【要】【么】【是】【爱】【情】，【要】【么】【是】【亲】【情】【的】
“【于】【非】。” “【嗯】？【谁】【叫】【我】？” 【正】【在】【和】【季】【游】【闲】【聊】【的】【于】【非】【突】【然】【听】【见】【耳】【边】【传】【来】【阵】【阵】【低】【语】，【下】【意】【识】【就】【脱】【口】【而】【出】。 【季】【游】【一】【脸】【懵】【比】【的】“【啊】？”【了】【一】【声】。 “【于】【非】，【你】【的】【冒】【险】【至】【此】【终】【结】。” “【什】【么】【鬼】？” 【于】【非】【很】【懵】【比】，【同】【时】【心】【里】【无】【端】【端】【的】【升】【起】【不】【详】【的】【预】【感】，【似】【乎】【有】【什】【么】【惊】【天】【大】【事】【将】【要】【发】【生】。 “【于】【非】，【一】【切】【都】