nullPARK CITY — Dark Horse Company Theatre gangs up with Park City’s Egyptian Theater to bring Utah Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical, tick, tick… BOOM! (Whew… what a mouthful.)
tick, tick… BOOM! is the story of modern composer/playwright, Jon (played by Daniel T. Simons), whose life is ticking dangerously close to his 30th birthday. Struggling with his choice to live the Bohemian life and not having achieved success since college, Jon is hearing the clock count down to the impending doom that may lead to his career’s demise. Tossing back and forth between joining Michael (Jonathan Scott McBride), his roommate/former actor, in the business world or settling down in the suburbs with is long time girlfriend, Susan (Ginger Bess).
As mentioned, this show is the artistic autobiography of Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jonathan Larson, the creator of Rent. This show is must see for Rent fans. The music, scenes, and raw feel of the show create the basis for what later became Larson’s Broadway hit. Originally written as a one man show, tick, tick… BOOM! was re-written by David Auburn in 1996 into a three person show following Larson’s death. Depicting Larson’s life before Rent hit the stage, the audience is watches the events surrounding his first career success. A workshop attempt at a rock-musical version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four called Superbia.
Dark Horse takes on a drastically different show in tick, tick… BOOM! Bordering on the edge of a narrative rock concert creates a difficult challenge for Broadway style vocalists. As the show began, I had trouble consolidating the one stage rock band with Simon’s beautiful tenor voice. He’s a talented actor with a great set of pipes, but he just wasn’t a bad boy rocker. His voice lacked the edge required for some of the songs. I also had a hard time picturing him as the person who would sneak up to the roof to roll a joint or drop the f-bomb in casual conversation. I will say that as the show progressed, and the mood shifted from hardcore to dramatic, his portrayal of Jon grew on me. His emotional solo in “Why” was one of my favorite performances of the show.
Our two other performers, Bess and McBride, rotated in and out from their primary roles to play ensemble characters. Bess’s side characters were the point where she shined as an actress. While her portrayal of Susan, Jon’s girlfriend, wasn’t quite believable, her hilarious wheezing representation as Jon’s agent and the cute and bubbly vocal powerhouse, Karessa, were phenomenal. “Come to Your Senses” was an amazing song showcasing Bess’s vocal talent, even though the setting of the stage reminded me of an ’80s music video. *shutter*
McBride was the highlight of the show for me, and the most appropriately cast. He was a fantastic vocalist and all together fulfilled his role as the best friend, Michael. Ranging from confident business man to the scared and emotional; he was easy to watch in the part. Cheers!
On entering the theater I was astonished to see such an intensive set. The industrial style set was rigged almost at a tribute to the show’s successor, Rent. I loved the intricacy of it all, but I was put off by the set’s mobility. Heavy set pieces made for slow scene changes, which affected the pace of the show. With so much depth to the stage, I was also deterred by inconsistency in props. Some props were present while others were pantomimed. A cordless phone in one scene and an imaginary pay phone in another. The lack of consistency also carried over to ensemble scenes where cardboard cut outs substituted for people to fill a crowded restaurant and another scene utilized the band to fill in another. These along with disco-tech lighting and a couple of audio blips that drew my attention were the shows weakest points. By no means would it deter me from seeing it again.
The show was a intriguing musical ride into the life of a man who changed the style of the modern musical. tick, tick… BOOM! is definitely a show to see. And for all those who will be seeing Pioneer’s production of Rent this summer, this show is a MUST see!
Director: Gamyr Worf
Music Director: Sean Sekino
Choreographer: Jennifer Rouse
Set Designer: Andrew Barrus
Props: Zack Kimbrell
Costumer: Aaron Swenson