Before Rent, there was Tick, Tick… BOOM! Presented by The Ritz Theater Company as part of the organization’s “Grand Reopening” season, this autobiographical musical from Jonathan Larson, creator of Rent, Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner, tells the story of a composer and the sacrifices he makes on the way to the proverbial big break. Directed by the Ritz’s Associate Artistic Director, Matthew Weil, the show runs at the Ritz from March 18 through April 3.
“Getting old can’t be fun. Add a dash of dread about your lack of accomplishment and you have a recipe for many unhappy birthdays,” muses Weil. “Tick, Tick…BOOM! explores this feeling through the eyes of Jonathan, a budding young composer who struggles with the reality that his lot in life is not quite what he expected and the looming possibility that it never happens.. Time is limited and we all yearn to carve out a place for ourselves or leave behind something that will consecrate our impact on the world.These themes are universal for all ages, and although the source material of this musical was written in 1990, millennials across the country are battling feelings very similar to Jonathan’s.”
Tick, Tick…BOOM!, then titled Boho Days, first premiered as a workshop production with Second Stage Theater in September 1990. After the workshop, Larson revised the play in development, changed the title and personally presented the show at several venues. over the next three years. Larson staged the show as a “rock monologue”, a new form of theater for the time. After Larson’s untimely death in 1996, David Auburn, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof, restructured the show into a three-actor musical, with one actor playing Jon and the other two actors playing Susan and Michael, as well as all of the other roles in the series. Now considered a “cult classic” of musical theatre, the show has been revived on many stages since, even stepping into the spotlight last year with Netflix’s successful film adaptation directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and starring Andrew Garfield as Jon (a role that has now earned him his second Best Actor Oscar nomination).
Tackle Jon’s role in this Ritz production of Tick, Tick… BOOM! is local actor AJ Klein, who despite returning to the acting arena after a four-year hiatus, imbues his portrayal with passion and fire to spare. “I’m able to make many connections to my personal life and use them to feed my version of the character. Anxiety is rocket fuel. It’s a bug in my brain that drives me to work harder and energizes every action I take, but it’s volatile and can just as easily bring me down.This idea is something I struggle with on a daily basis, but I never had the words to clearly define it before this production.
Joining Mr. Klein on stage are versatile performers Sara Viniar (Susan) and Jerrod Ganesh (Michael), who help flesh out Jon’s story from a variety of different perspectives. The production team includes musical and vocal director Kristy Joe Slough, costume designer Megan Iafolla, lighting designer Jen Donsky and stage manager Brian Gensel. All are extremely eager to bring their director’s vision to life on the Ritz stage.
“I hope this production will challenge you and inspire you to do what you were afraid to do,” concludes Mr. Weil. “I hope this inspires you to follow your dreams, maybe even with a little reckless abandon. Time is short, too short not to do what you love, that’s what I’m trying to do with this show.”
Learn more at www.RitzTheatreCo.org