Natascia Diaz is the New Girlfriend on the Block in tick, tick...BOOM! Oct. 30

News   Natascia Diaz is the New Girlfriend on the Block in tick, tick...BOOM! Oct. 30 Natascia Diaz joins the trio of friends in Rent writer Jonathan Larson's Off-Broadway musical, tick, tick...BOOM! Oct. 30, stepping in the shoes of Amy Spanger and Molly Ringwald, who came before.

Natascia Diaz joins the trio of friends in Rent writer Jonathan Larson's Off-Broadway musical, tick, tick...BOOM! Oct. 30, stepping in the shoes of Amy Spanger and Molly Ringwald, who came before.

Diaz, with solid regional, tour and New York credits under her belt, plays Susan, the girlfriend of the show's main character, Jonathan (played by former teen idol Joey McIntyre, once of the boy group New Kids on the Block). Theatre songwriter Jonathan is a fictionalized version of the late Larson, who penned the intimate musical around the time of his 30th birthday, when success seemed far away.

Jerry Dixon (Once On This Island) is Jonathan's best friend, Michael, at the Jane Street Theatre in Manhattan. Dixon is heard on the cast album, with Raul Esparza and Spanger.

Diaz played Yolanda in Capeman, Vicky in the Off Broadway musical, Bright Lights, Big City, Catherine in Paper Mill's Pippin, and a fiery Anita in a national tour of West Side Story that earned her a Jeff Award in Chicago.

* Penned by a youthful librettist-lyricist-composer Jonathan Larson before his Rent was a smash, tick, tick...BOOM! serves as a kind of fascinating footnote to the larger rock opera. Semi-autobiographical, tick, tick is a glimpse at what Larson himself was going through as an artist and a person in 1990, when he was just turning 30. At one point in the work's development, it was called 30/90.

tick, tick...BOOM! was written as a solo show, and has been reconfigured, with the help of Pulitzer Prize-winner David Auburn, for three actors.

*

On the edge of 30, lyricist-composer-librettist Jonathan Larson wrote about a songwriter named Jonathan at the edge of 30, at the crossroads: His girl wants to marry, his pal is a successful businessman, and "Jonathan" wants nothing less than to be a big noise in American musical theatre.

This is the stuff of Larson's seminal tick, tick...BOOM!, his unproduced intimate show that first emerged in 1990. It finally got its world premiere June 13 at the Jane Street Theatre, five years after the unexpected death of 35 year-old Larson, who did indeed make his mark on musical theatre with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent.

Previews began May 23 in Manhattan. The original schedule was eight shows a week. The musical, whose sound will remind a listener of Rent, is a quirky take on Larson's life rather than strict autobiography. Scott Schwartz (Bat Boy, Jane Eyre) directs. Stephen Oremus is musical director.

There were several versions of the show over the years, producer Robyn Goodman said, and the number of songs in each version varied. Musical numbers over the years included "Theatre Is Dead," "Louder Than Words," "Why" and "Sunday," among others. The current Playbill lists 13 songs: "30/90," "Green Green Dress," "Johnny Can't Decide," "Sunday," "No More," "Therapy," "Play Game," "Real Life," "Sugar," "See Her Smile," "Come to Your Senses," "Why" and "Louder Than Words."

Amy Asch, an archivist for the Larson papers (and Playbill On Line employee), told PBOL Larson had the style of monologists Eric Bogosian and Spalding Gray in mind when he was creating the unique musical.

Goodman is partnering with producers Victoria Leacock, Dede Harris, Lorie Cowen Levy and Beth Smith.

Designers are Anna Louizos (set), David Zinn (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lighting), John Weston (sound).

Tickets are $20-$50. Jane Street Theatre is at 113 Jane Street (between West and Washington streets) in Manhattan. For ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.

— By Kenneth Jones