tick, tick's Off-Bway Time Running Out, But a National Tour is Expected

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Producers are mulling a national tour of Jonathan Larson's three-actor, semi-autobiographical rock musical, tick, tick...BOOM!, for 2002, but time is running out for the original Off-Broadway staging.

The musical by the late creator of Rent ends 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 Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn (Proof). Scott Schwartz directed.

Beth Smith, one of the producers, is leading the plan for a national tour for later in 2002, a spokesman said. 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.

Composer-lyricist-librettist Larson created the show drawing on elements of his young life and emerging career. In New York, Joey McIntrye (New Kids On the Block) plays "Jonathan," a struggling composer lyricist who, as age 30 dawns, wants to change the course of musical theatre. Natascia Diaz is girlfriend Susan (and other characters) and Jerry Dixon plays best pal Michael (and others).

* tick, tick is viewed by fans as a sister work of Larson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent. The Off-Broadway show serves as a kind of fascinating footnote to the larger, Broadway rock opera. Based on reality, 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.

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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.

Diaz, with solid regional, tour and New York credits under her belt, plays Susan, the girlfriend of the show's main character, Jonathan.

Dixon (Once On This Island) 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.

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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.

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 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.

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.