tick, tick... BOOM!
Jonathan Larson had a short but remarkable career in musical theatre. Fuelled by his fantastic gift for melody and his immersion in the New York City scene of the 1980’s and 1990’s, each of his works carries a level of realism that instantly connects with audiences of all calibres. The semi-autobiographical musical tick, tick… BOOM! is one of those special stage creations that immediately take you in with its human-level storytelling and flowing melodies. Originally a one-man show with lyrics, music and stage direction by Larson himself that premiered in 1990, his script consultant David Auburn turned it into a three-piece affair which had its off-Broadway premiere at Manhattan’s Jane Street Theater in NYC on 23 May 2001. The show has enjoyed regular revivals on both sides of the Atlantic. More recently, tick, tick… BOOM! reached new audience segments thanks to the Netflix production starring Andrew Garfield, who even nabbed an Oscar nomination for playing the lead part. This season, Volksoper Wien brings the popular three-person version of the beloved musical to the live stage.
In his distinct autobiographical style, Larson based the main character of tick, tick… BOOM! on himself. The pianist and composer Jon is facing something of an existential crisis: his heart is in musical theatre, but his career does not seem to be taking off. His best friend Michael has already abandoned acting for the more secure and profitable field of marketing. His girlfriend Susan is a gifted dancer who makes a living teaching ballet to rich kids with no discernible talent. Jon is fighting hard to get his latest musical, Superbia, produced on Broadway, but he seems to be getting nowhere. Through many little and big personal crises and conflicts, the struggling composer realises what truly matters in life and learns to appreciate the risks and uncertainty of working in the arts. Perhaps he even gets the coveted phone call that means his career is finally taking off…
Jonathan Larson’s songwriting gift carries tick, tick… BOOM! to new heights. The composer cleverly weaved many of his musical influences into the score, especially references to his idol, Stephen Sondheim. The final product is equal parts a celebration of musicals as a genre and a best example thereof. Vienna’s Volksoper will come alive with song this season.