|Tick, Tick... Boom!
|May 23, 2001:
Jane Street Theater, Manhattan, New York City
2003 US Tour
2005 Off-West End
2009 West End
2016 Off-Broadway revival
|Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical
Tick, Tick... Boom! (styled as tick, tick... BOOM!) is a musical by Jonathan Larson. It tells the story of an aspiring composer named Jon, who lives in New York City in 1990. Jon is worried he has made the wrong career choice to be part of the performing arts. The story is semi-autobiographical, as stated by Larson's father in the liner notes of the cast recording – Larson had been trying to establish himself in theater since the early 1980s.
Larson began to perform the piece as a solo work in 1990. After his death in 1996, it was revised and revamped by playwright David Auburn as a three-actor piece and was premiered Off-Broadway in 2001.Since then, the show has had an Off West End production, a West End production, an American national tour, two Off-Broadway revivals, in 2014 and 2016, and numerous local and international productions.
A film adaptation, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and starring Andrew Garfield in the lead role, was released by Netflix in November 2021. It was generally well received by critics with Garfield receiving an Academy Award nomination for his performance.
The show was first performed as a workshop between September 6 and September 9, 1990 by Jonathan Larson at the Off-Broadway playhouse Second Stage Theater under the title Boho Days. Larson revised the developing piece following the Second Stage workshop, changing the title to Tick, Tick... Boom!, and presented with him as performer in November 1991 at the Village Gate (produced by Larson's college friend Victoria Leacock), and then later in 1992 and 1993 in the "O Solo Mio" fests at New York Theatre Workshop.Larson performed the show as a "rock monologue", a new form of theatre for the time. The performance attracted the attention of a young producer named Jeffrey Seller, who became a fan of Larson's work. In 1995, he saw the New York Theatre Workshop production of Larson's musical Rent and convinced his fellow producers to bring it to Broadway.
After Larson's death in 1996, Leacock asked David Auburn, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof , to reconfigure Tick, Tick... Boom!. He restructured the monologue into a three-actor musical,with one actor playing Jon and the other two actors playing Michael and Susan, as well as all the other roles in the show. Also, the script and score were streamlined and edited. This revised version of the piece premiered Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theater on May 23, 2001. Auburn received credit as "Script Consultant".
Jon is an aspiring composer for musical theater, who lives in SoHo, New York. The year is 1990, and as his 30th birthday approaches Jon is worried about his aging and lack of achievement ("30/90"). Michael, a friend of Jon's since childhood, gave up acting to pursue a more lucrative career in marketing. Susan, Jon's girlfriend, is a dancer who teaches ballet to "wealthy and untalented children". On the roof of his apartment building, Jon reveals that he is nervous about an upcoming workshop of his newest musical, SUPERBIA. When Susan comes to join him, he comments on her dress and how beautiful it makes her look ("Green Green Dress").
The next morning, Susan asks Jon about the possibility of leaving New York. Jon is torn between following his dream of composing and opting for security and family in a different career ("Johnny Can’t Decide"). His reverie is cut short when he remembers his day job as a waiter in a SoHo diner ("Sunday").
After work, Michael picks Jon up in his brand new BMW to show Jon his new apartment. Michael exults at the thought of a life of luxury ("No More"), and pressures Jon further to consider changing his career path. He agrees to accompany Michael to work the next day and visit a brainstorming session at his firm. Back at home, Jon plans to spend the remainder of the evening composing, but is interrupted by a call from Susan ("Therapy").
At Michael's office, the brainstorming session involves naming a cooking fat substitute through a convoluted process. Jon sees the futility of the process and his unwillingness to cooperate gets him removed from the meeting. As Jon drives Michael to the airport for a business trip, they argue about the meeting. Michael tells Jon that the life Susan wants doesn't sound bad, and that he wishes his job could give him the chance to settle down ("Real Life").
After dropping Michael off, Jon goes to a rehearsal for SUPERBIA, but not before stopping to get a snack of Twinkies ("Sugar"). At the market, he spies Karessa Johnson, one of his actors for SUPERBIA. She reveals a similar weakness for Twinkies, and this leads to a sudden friendship between the two. After the rehearsal, Susan sees Jon and Karessa walking together and becomes jealous. Jon begs Susan to stay and be with him. Despite this, she leaves for home, and Jon thinks about what may have happened to make her behave this way ("See Her Smile").
The next morning, Jon arrives early at the theater for the workshop of SUPERBIA. Karessa steals the show with her performance of “Come to Your Senses”. Jon gets many congratulations, but no offers to produce the show, and so, in his eyes, the workshop has been a failure. Jon visits Michael and tells him that he is through with music. Michael says that while he enjoys how he makes a lot more money now, he finds the job to be banal and unrewarding. The two argue, and Jon yells at Michael for not understanding fear or insecurity. Michael responds by telling Jon that he is HIV-positive. Shocked, Jon leaves quickly and wanders through Central Park until he finds himself at the closed Delacorte Theater. He finds an old rehearsal piano and begins to play it while collecting his thoughts. Jon ponders on whether the amount of sacrifice required for his career in music is worth it, and whether those telling him to "have it all, play the game" are right ("Why"). Ultimately, he realizes that he will only be happy as a professional composer, no matter what hardships that may bring.
The next morning is Jon's thirtieth birthday party ("30/90 Reprise"). He sees Susan, who is getting ready to leave. She gives him his birthday gift: a thousand sheets of blank manuscript paper. They agree to write to each other, and she leaves. The phone rings, and the caller is Jon's idol, Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim leaves Jon his contact information so they can meet and discuss SUPERBIA. Jon realizes that he is surrounded by friends and that his talents are finally being recognized.
|Original Off-Broadway Production
|American National Tour
|West End Premiere
|Neil Patrick Harris
|Leslie Odom Jr.
|Outer Critics Circle Awards
|Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical
|Drama Desk Awards
|Outstanding Book of a Musical
|Jonathan Larson & David Auburn
|Outstanding Director of a Musical
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
|Lucille Lortel Awards
|Jonathan Larson (book, music and lyrics); Victoria Leacock, Robyn Goodman, Dede Harris, Lorie Cowen Levy and Beth Smith (producers)
|Distinguished Performance by an Actor
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