The producing team of Jonathan Larson's tick, tick...BOOM!, a musical snapshot of a young songwriter's life, is still exploring a national tour for the hip, punchy rock musical.
Beth Smith, one of the Off-Broadway staging's five producers, said she's hoping for a tour of at least 35 weeks to begin in the fall for the intimate, pop-rock musical, which features a score and lyrics by the late Larson, who penned Rent. Larson's libretto was adapted by playwright David Auburn (Proof), and focuses on a theatrical songwriter named Jonathan and his wish for success, both financial and artistic in 1990, as he turned 30. Early in its development, when Larson was performing it as a solo piece, the show was called 30/90. Both Larson are Auburn are winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
"If the right number of weeks lines up," a tour could be announced by mid-February or so, Smith said. The Off Broadway design team would be on board to create a larger version of the original unit set, Smith said, and Joey McIntyre would be sought — and has expressed interest — to play the role of Jonathan, as he did in fall 2001 at the Jane Street Theatre in New York City.
The show, whose audience skews under 40, would play in touring venues ranging 800-1,800 seats and might appear on the Off Broadway subscription series in some cities, Smith said. tick, tick is considered a funky, urban sister show to Rent and has the advantage of the fact that Rent has criss-crossed the nation in recent years.
* The musical ended its Off-Broadway run Jan. 6 at the Jane Street Theatre, following 24 previews and 215 performances. Producers Victoria Leacock, Robyn Goodman, Dede Harris, Lorie Cowen Levy and Beth Smith brought the intimate and unique show to the Jane Street. The work was originally created by Larson in 1990 as a solo piece, and expanded after his death into a three-actor show that was adapted by playwright Auburn. Scott Schwartz directed. Designers were Anna Louizos (set), David Zinn (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lighting), John Weston (sound).
The musical has found success in foreign markets, including a landmark triple production in South Korea where three Korean pop stars are playing the lead role (in the Korean language) in three different productions (to say nothing of a special English language staging there featuring Off-Broadway star Joey McIntyre and his OB colleagues, Natascia Diaz and Jerry Dixon). Larson created the show drawing on elements of his young life and emerging career. In its final months Off Broadway, tick, tick starred McIntyre (New Kids On the Block) as "Jonathan," a struggling composer-lyricist who, as age 30 dawns, wants to change the course of musical theatre. Diaz was girlfriend Susan (and other characters) and Dixon played best pal Michael (and others).
Diaz joined as one in the trio of friends in tick, tick...BOOM! Oct. 30, 2001, stepping in the shoes of Amy Spanger and Molly Ringwald, who came before.
Original cast member Dixon (Once On This Island) is heard on the cast album, with Raul Esparza and Amy Spanger.
tick, tick...BOOM! first emerged in solo presentations in 1990. It finally got its commercial world premiere June 13, 2001 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 Rent.
Previews began May 23, 2001, in Manhattan. The musical, whose sound will remind a listener of Rent, is a quirky take on Larson's life rather than strict autobiography. Stephen Oremus musical directed.
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.
— By Kenneth Jones