Directed & Choreographed by Adam Pelty
Music direction by Diana Lawrence
Produced by Porchlight Music Theatre
At Stage 773, Chicago
Earlier Larson musical hints at RENT
I must state upfront that over the years, and especially since I’ve been covering opera over the last five years, my toleration for an appreciation of pop/rock style music and singing have drastically deteriorated. Maybe it’s the lack of melodies or the stutter-style singing that hardcore rockers call “Broadway rock” that I find offensive? Add the muddled singing that renders much of the lyrics difficult to understand and I find such shows as RENT or tick,tick, BOOM! hard to swallow. But since there is a large audience for pop/rock shows, let me state that Adam Pelty’s tick, tick, BOOM! contains enough energy, heart, and tunefulness to satisfy the core audience.
Before he wrote RENT, Jonathan Larson wrote and performed tick, tick…BOOM! as an autobiographical look at his dream of leaving his mark on musical theatre. Some would argue that tick, tick, BOOM! is Larson’s best work even though RENT is his most well known rock opera. I have always liked tic, tic…BOOM! better than RENT mainly because it is structured more like a traditional Broadway musical.
The angst of turning 30 years old become tragic for Jon. Really, I though adulthood starts at 3o?
tic, tic…BOOM! is a musical look at holding onto one’s dreams in the modern world when all your friends are ‘selling out’ to lucrative corporate careers and abandoning the arts. We meet Jon (Adrian Aguilarl) and his best friend Michael (Bear Bellinger) and Jon’s girl Susan (Jenny Guse) just before Jon’s thirtieth birthday and his showcase of his new musical, Superbia. Jon is desperate to make it on Broadway as a playwright but impending marriage, career changes and his girl’s desire to live in suburbia all threaten his ‘real’ dream. Does he sell out or persevere?
Set in 1990 in New York City, this youthful fast-paced show contains enough pop and rock tunes to suggest Larson, indeed, is out to change musical theatre. There is a Sondheim influence that serves the work well. Tic, tick…BOOM! isn’t a great show, yet it is an entertaining early look at the struggles of chasing one’s dreams.
Adrian Aguilaris most empathetic while Bear Bellinger is quite versatile. Jenny Guse needs to project more during her numbers. The music was fine but the percussion could be toned down a tad since it dominates.
Tic, tic…BOOM! unfolds as an ode to Jonathan Larson and to all struggling artist who steadfastly hold onto their dreams. Porchlight Music Theatre’s production is engaging and tuneful. It hints at the style that would make RENT into a hit rock opera. Pop rock musical fans will enjoy this show. Lovers of RENT and pop/rock musicals will enjoy this worthy production – lovers of old-time Broadway may resist.
At Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-327-5252, www.porchlightmusictheatre.org, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, special Friday, June 1 performance at 10 pm, running time is 95 minutes without intermission, through June 10, 2012