Have a booming great night out at Tick, Tick BoomBy Caroline Cook
March 20, 2013
Tick Tick Boom
Wednesday, March 20, to Saturday, March 23
Pinewood Leisure Centre
Old Wokingham Road,
After trying to make it in theatre for a decade, Jonathan Larson knew what he was talking about when he wrote Tick, Tick...Boom!
With the clock quite literally ticking in the background, the autobiographical musical tells the story of struggling playwright Jon.
On the brink of turning 30, Jon is waiting tables in New York, trying to write the ‘great American musical’.
Ironically, several years later Larson did write that musical, the Tony Award and Pultizer Prize-winning Rent – but, in a tragic twist, he never saw his success.
On the opening night of an off-Broadway performance of Rent, Larson died unexpectedly of a tear in the heart, aged just six years older than his lead character in Tick, Tick...Boom!
After Larson’s death, when Rent was becoming a phenomenon on Broadway, playwright David Auburn was asked to rework Tick, Tick...Boom! from a rock monologue into a three-actor musical.
The result was almost an early version of Rent, with seedlings of Rent songs and themes.
But Tom Horrox, who is directing the East Berkshire Operatic Society’s performance of the musical says Tick, Tick...Boom! has even more punch than Rent. “There’s some stuff which is quite sombre and is like the emotional side of Rent, but it’s even more emotional,” he says.
“There’s one bit where we hope there won’t be a dry eye in the house.”
Tom came across Tick, Tick...Boom! with co-director Karl King while the pair were looking at a list of the 100 greatest musicals – a list both Jonathan and Jon longed to be part of.
“We didn’t know anything about it but we watched some clips on YouTube,” says Tom.
“We listened to one song, Louder than Words, and within 30 seconds I knew this was what we were going to put on.”
The pair have stripped back the production, working with minimal props, and letting the three actors take centre stage.
“It’s interesting because the way we are working it, a lot of it is part of Jon’s imagination,” says Tom.
“The other two characters play all the other parts around his life, so they’re the two best friends and they’re also all the inconsequential parts like the door man.”
Tom says some of the songs are ‘very Rent-like’, like No More which sounds like an early version of the musical’s opening sequence.
As an autobiographical work Tick, Tick...Boom! also takes inspiration from other areas of Larson’s life, something Tom says gives an extra layer to the show.
“Jon has a girlfriend called Susan and Jonathan Larson had a girlfriend called Susan.
“And Michael is based on a friend of his who died of Aids.
“These people actually existed and it’s been great for actors to go and research the people themselves as opposed to just looking at the text.”
After Tick, Tick...Boom! was revamped by David Auburn it went on to have an American tour, a West End run and is now being performed by local groups, like EBOS, all around the world – making the irony of its subject matter, and Larson’s own experiences, all the more prevalent.