tick, tick...BOOM! Tour Launches Jan. 7 in Dallas; Dates Continue to June

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07 Jan 2003

Now that Rent has criss-crossed the country, theatregoers across the U.S. will see its cousin show, Jonathan Larson's tick, tick...BOOM!, starting Jan. 7, when a national tour launches at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas.

The intimate autobiographical musical by the late author of Rent stars Christian Campbell as 30-year-old songwriter Jonathan; Nicole Ruth Snelson as his girlfriend, Susan (and others); and Wilson Cruz as best pal Michael (and others).

Campbell appeared in Off-Broadway's Reefer Madness, Snelson originated the role of Winnie Tate in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun, and Cruz may be best for TV's "My So Called Life" and the Los Angeles company of Rent.

The production is directed by Scott Schwartz, who helmed the 2001 Off-Broadway staging, which had script consultation by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn (Proof), who helped shape various drafts the material by the late composer-lyricist-librettist Larson. Randy Cohen is musical director on the road; Stephen Oremus is musical supervisor and orchestrator arranger (and conducted Off-Broadway).

Cities on the tour include Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, East Lansing, MI, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Hershey, PA, Nashville, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Boston.



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Larson was posthumously awarded the 1996 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize Rent. In tick, tick...BOOM!, an effort from 1990, Larson wrote of a struggling songwriter who longed to change the course of musical theatre. tick, tick is considered a funky, urban cousin to Rent and this tour has the advantage of the fact that Rent has criss-crossed the nation in recent years (the Broadway staging of Rent continues at the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway).

In the three-actor musical, New Yorker "Jonathan" is tuning 30 and experiencing angst about his girlfriend, his job, his writing, his best friend's success on Madison Avenue and the world around him.

His story is told with 14 songs, 10 characters, three actors and a band. Raul Esparza starred as Jonathan Off Broadway at the Jane Street Theatre, with Amy Spanger (as the girlfriend who wants him to move to the burbs) and Jerry Dixon (as the pal). A cast album features the trio. (Molly Ringwald and Natascia Diaz would later take on the Spanger role of the women in Jonathan's life, Off Broadway).

Pop star Joey McIntyre (who took over for Esparza in NYC) also appeared in the Off-Broadway run, and there was talk he might tour the show, but he landed a role on TV's "Boston Public." The tour continues to June 8.

Designers in New York were Anna Louizos (set), David Zinn (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lighting), John Weston (sound). For the tour, designers are Louizos (set), Jimm Halliday (costumes), Howell Binkley (lighting), Christopher Gattelli (musical staging).

Standbys for the cast are Jordan Ballard (a Maureen from the national tour of Rent) and Trey Ellett (a veteran Mark of Broadway's Rent).

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The musical ended its Off-Broadway run Jan. 6, 2002, 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. NETworks Presentations LLC is producing the tour, with Kenneth L. Gentry and Beth Smith as executive producers.

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 McIntyre and his OB colleagues, Natascia Diaz and Jerry Dixon). Larson created the show drawing on elements of his young life and emerging career.

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tick, tick...BOOM! first emerged in solo presentations in 1990, with Larson as star (it was titled 30/90, a reference to turning 30 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.

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 in New York.

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 PBOL employee, told PBOL Larson had the style of monologists Eric Bogosian and Spalding Gray in mind when he was creating the unique musical.