Ringwald Leaves tick, tick Behind Oct. 28; Natascia Diaz Joins Oct. 30

News   Ringwald Leaves tick, tick Behind Oct. 28; Natascia Diaz Joins Oct. 30 Molly Ringwald, the onetime teen film sensation, exits the tiny Off Broadway rock musical, tick, tick...BOOM! Oct. 28, making way for Natascia Diaz to join the three-actor show Oct. 30.

Molly Ringwald, the onetime teen film sensation, exits the tiny Off Broadway rock musical, tick, tick...BOOM! Oct. 28, making way for Natascia Diaz to join the three-actor show Oct. 30.

Former teen idol Joey McIntyre, once of the boy group New Kids on the Block, plays Jonathan, a struggling musical theatre songwriter and Jerry Dixon is Jonathan's best friend, at the Jane Street Theatre in Manhattan. Penned by a youthful Jonathan Larson before his Rent was a smash, the show 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.

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

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The musical is set in 1990 and focuses on a writer named Jonathan who feels lost because he's turning 30 and his generation has never known challenges. It began a five-show-per week schedule Sept. 26 due to a lack of theatregoers in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Wednesday-Sunday schedule continued to Oct. 21. On Oct. 23, Tuesday performances were added. Raul Esparza, Amy Spanger and Jerry Dixon created the roles and are heard on the RCA cast album. Ringwald took over for Spanger Sept. 20. Esparza exited Oct. 14 and moved into the hit Broadway production of Cabaret Oct. 26, playing the Emcee.

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Ringwald, the film and stage actress who knew Jonathan Larson and is pals with producer Victoria Leacock, joined the company of Larson's tick, tick...BOOM! Sept. 20, two days later than previously announced.

Ringwald met producer Leacock several years ago when starring in a film about Leacock's AIDS activist friend, Alison Gertz, and through Leacock Ringwald met Larson, the songwriter librettist who would pen Rent.

Ringwald is no stranger to Larson's work: She sang his song, "Destination: Sky," from his children's video "Away We Go!" at the first Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation event in the spring of 1997.

Jerry Dixon (once of Once On This Island) continues with the show as Jonathan's best friend, and others.

Ringwald made a name for herself starring in the so called "brat pack" movies of the 1980s, including "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink" and "The Breakfast Club." Ringwald starred in the short-lived TV series, "Townies," and in the Off-Broadway and Los Angeles stagings of How I Learned to Drive.

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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.

s writing but also waiting tables. Amy Spanger (Kiss Me, Kate) was his girlfriend (and other characters) and Jerry Dixon is his gay best pal (and others) in the Off Broadway debut of the semi-autobiographical rock and pop-driven musical. 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.

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tick, tick first emerged in 1990, but never got fully produced. Larson did, of course, eventually cause shock waves in theatre, in 1996, when his rock opera Rent won the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He died of an undiagnosed heart ailment prior to the show's Off Broadway debut. It moved to Broadway after its sold-out run at New York Theatre Workshop. Rent celebrated its fifth anniversary April 29.

Rent fans are expected to be especially interested in the "new" show. Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winner David Auburn is script consultant for the show, which had been seen in various stages in readings or workshops starring Larson.

The show was first performed by Larson under the title Boho Days (billed as a "rock monologue with band") Sept. 6-9, 1990, in a workshop at Second Stage. He revised the developing piece following Second Stage, and the title was changed to tick, tick...BOOM! and presented with Larson as performer in 1991 at the Village Gate (with college pal Victoria Leacock producing), and then later in 1992 and 1993 in the "O Solo Mio" fests at New York Theatre Workshop. The Off-Broadway script is an adaptation by playwright Auburn (Proof), drawing on Larson's various drafts.

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 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