So Long, Not Goodnight: My Chemical Romance Goes to Broadway

The music of Carole King, ABBA, and Green Day have inspired hit Broadway musicals—we satirically imagined what would happen if one emo band from Belleville, NJ got its turn.

by Erin Schwartz
May 22 2018, 4:44pm

Fathers, take your young boys into the city—not to see a marching band, but to the bright lights of Broadway. From the team who brought you Jersey Boys, a show about the five hardscrabble New Jersey youths who became pop sensation Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, comes the new musical Don’t Cry, My Love! Life is a March Toward the Grave and the Worms Will Make a Feast of Us All, the heartwarming story of five total losers from Belleville who overcame preps, posers, and jocks to launch mid-aughts emo powerhouse My Chemical Romance.

Six-time Tony nominee Garett Pip-Lemler (Hello, Dolly!; Oklahoma!; Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical; Mamma Mia!; and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) stars as MCR frontman Gerard Way and will belt out such classics as “Helena” and “Helena (Reprise).

“The most difficult part, for me, was the hair,” mused Pip-Lemler. “In Act 2, my character—who is named Gerard Way, but I see as an interpretation rather than a biographical representation—changes his hair from a black, long, and stringy style to a short, bleach-blonde cut, and it really just blindsides the audience. What is his motivation in that moment? The old hairstyle was fine.”

“I have explored some dark places within me to find these answers,” shared Pip-Lemler. “It’s been hard. But I think that is what Gerard would want me to do.”

In the style of Stephen Sondheim’s 1981 musical Merrily We Roll Along, the play is structured in reverse-chronological order: it opens with the band’s tragic dissolution in 2013 and travels back in time to the hope-filled moment in 2001 where they dreamed of showing normies that a bunch of random weirdos can be rock stars, too. Act 1 closes with the backstage marriage of Gerard Way and Lyn-Z (Kristin Chenoweth), the bassist for Mindless Self Indulgence, after a performance for Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution Tour. The couple belts out MCR classic “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” in lieu of wedding vows.

The cast also includes Jesse Castellanos as lead guitarist Ray Toro, Dirk Youngman as rhythm guitarist Frank Iero, Tommy Lemmings as bassist as Mikey Way, and Lin-Manuel Miranda in a groundbreaking multiple-role turn as Hot Topic Executive/Gerard’s Father (Mr. Way)/Kevin “The Rat King” DeLong/Ghost #2. First-look critics laud Miranda’s rendition of the band’s seminal hit “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” as the emotional climax of the show.

“I don’t know who told you that,” said Pip-Lemler. “But Lin-Manuel Miranda is not the star of this show. Does he wear the black wig, then the blonde wig, and then—surprise!—a red one too? No.”

“It has been such a privilege to work on Don’t Cry, My Love! Life is a March Toward the Grave and the Worms Will Make a Feast of Us All,” enthused choreographer Danica Mortimer. “There is such a rich tradition of dance associated with emo music. I thought it would be difficult for the cast to master the Skellington Trot, the Mall Rat Slump, and parasol-twirling, especially with visibility so low under those sidebangs. But this is a very talented group, and they picked it up immediately.”

“Well, they didn’t pick up the coffins immediately,” Mortimer added. “Coffin-work is quite tricky. But we’re getting there.”

Much of the cast was unfamiliar with emo music before rehearsals, but Castellanos claims that their research gave them a chance to bond. “We went out to the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville because we heard that’s where some of the best screamo and power metal shows happened in the mid-aughts,” explained Castellanos. “But now, all the teens there are really posi. There’s no headbanging at all. It helped me understand how painful it must have been to see emo disappear.”

“I am not sure who is going to go see this,” gushed the Wall Street Journal. It’s so random that they said that! Get your tickets today.

My Chemical Romance