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Tick Tick Boom!

Jonathan Larson
Menier Chocolate Factory
(2005)

Poster

Tick Tick Boom! is a semi-autobiographical "rock monologue" by Jonathan Larson who wrote Rent. It explores the life of a New Yorker on the eve of his thirtieth birthday in 1990.

This 100-minute show works really well as its parts combine to make an impressive whole. The book is strong with the kind of plot about life that many musicals happily eschew. It is enhanced by a good dose of self-deprecating comedy, with a highlight a song about the sexuality of the sugar rush.

Jon, played by Neil Patrick Harris, is a musical writer or "promising young composer" who is ahead of his time. He wants to write the perfect Broadway Rock musical but what the Great White Way demands is work from a time warp sixty years in the past.

His girlfriend Susan, a dancer who teaches, wants him to get a steady job and move out of town. His best friend Mike has a lucrative job in market research and a BMW, and even his agent seems to have lost his phone number. Against this, all that Jon can offer, as his biological clock ticks on, is hope that his dream will one day become reality.

Things only really come together at his birthday celebration as he receives a call from Stephen Son......, a half-named composer who could make Jon's name overnight. The really good news is that, having seen a workshop of his musical Superbia, SS seems desirous of doing so.

American Director Scott Schwartz has cast the "monologue" for three and attains a constant air of energetic life, helped by a strong rock-based score and a fine performance from Harris who narrates, sings and plays an electronic keyboard.

He is well supported. Cassidy Janson, who plays his girlfriend, comes into her own in Come to Your Senses, a solo that allows her to demonstrate the real power of her voice. Tee Jay has a richer voice than Harris and gets his own poignant moment when he announces the reason for Mike's conspicuous consumption.

With great energy and wit, a well-drilled four-piece rock band and an atmosphere that makes one yearn to be in New York City, Tick Tick Boom! should prove a real winner.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher