How tick, tick... BOOM! Composer Jonathan Larson Inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to Tony-Winning Success

By Michelle Vellucci
25 Jun 2014

Jonathan Larson
Jonathan Larson

Tony-winning composer-lyricist and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda, starring in tick, tick... BOOM! at Encores! Off Center, opens up about his very personal history with the show.


Lin-Manuel Miranda discovered Jonathan Larson's work at exactly the right time — twice.

The first time was in 1997, when Miranda saw the Broadway production of Rent for his 17th birthday. "It was the first contemporary musical that ever spoke to me," he said. "This was someone writing about his own experience."

The second time was in 2001, when Miranda, then a senior at Wesleyan University, saw the Off-Broadway production of tick, tick... BOOM! As he watched Larson's autobiographical show about an aspiring composer who fears he will never find success, Miranda felt like he was watching his own life play out onstage. "I'm a theatre major, which means I have no marketable skills, and I'm terrified because I'm about to go out there and try to make a living at it. And then I see Jonathan's show, which is about everything that I am about to be facing... I drove down from school in Connecticut to see it three times."

In the dozen years that have passed since then, Miranda has made the leap from anxious theatre major to award-winning composer-lyricist and performer: His musical In the Heights won four Tony Awards, a Grammy Award and was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, among other accolades. Miranda was co-composer (with Tom Kitt), and co-lyricist (with Amanda Green) of Broadway's Bring It on: The Musical; he contributed new songs to the revival of Stephen Schwartz' Working; and he worked with Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim on the 2009 Broadway Revival of West Side Story. In 2012, Miranda made his Encores! debut starring alongside Colin Donnell and Celia Keenan-Bolger in Merrily We Roll Along.

This summer, Miranda will return to City Center and Encores! to star in a new production of the show that inspired him to get where he is today.

tick, tick... BOOM!, directed by Oliver Butler, will kick off the second season of Encores! Off-Center June 25–28. A one-night-only performance of Randy Newman's Faust: The Concert, starring Randy Newman, will follow July 1, and Pump Boys and Dinettes, directed by Lear De Bessonete, will wrap up the season July 16–19.

Off-Center, led by award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet), revives landmark Off-Broadway musicals for new generations of artists and audiences. The series debuted last summer with productions of Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock, Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley's Violet (now on Broadway) and Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford's I'm Getting my Act Together and Taking It on the Road.


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