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Review - tick, tick… BOOM: an absolutely stupendous show

tick, tick… BOOM!

Book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Directed by Timothy Wynn

Presented by THAT Production Company in association with Beenleigh Theatre Group

Crete Street Theatre


Season ends March 14.

tick, tick… BOOM! was an absolutely stupendous show that grabbed you, body and soul, and didn’t let go until the end. This had to be one of the very best amateur produced shows that I have seen—my other half raved about it all the way home.

This show takes us on the rocky road that is the musical industry, into the drama and life of an aspiring young composer in 1990’s New York, said to be the autobiographical story of Jonathan Larson himself, who struggled to make it on to Broadway since the 1980’s.

tick, tick…BOOM! tells the story of Jon, the aspiring composer; Susan, his girlfriend and a dancer; and Michael, Jon’s best friend from summer camp as boys, and also an actor who didn’t make the cut. Michael, now working for a big uptown company in marketing, tries to get Jon to make the switch to corporate life. Susan, likewise, wants to get away from New York, where she hasn’t made it as a dancer and go to Cape Cod, She tries to convince Jon to join her.

The show starts with Jon (played by Jackson McGovern) at the keyboard with writer’s block. Jon narrates the story. The first song, 30/90, which expressed Jon’s anxiety over his looming 30th birthday in 1990 and not having yet made it, (and indeed both Susan’s and Michael’s same despair) was full on rock and set the tone for the rest of the show. Jon, introduces us to his girlfriend of two years, Susan (played by Stephanie Long), who now teaches dancing. Green Green Dress, a duet between Jon and Susan on the roof of his apartment building, was extremely flirty and sexy, with Jackson and Stephanie playing it for all it was worth.

Michael (played by Josh Whitten), as part of his constant barrage of trying to persuade Jon to give it all up as he has, takes Jon to the west side to see his new apartment. The ride over in Michael’s BMW was very funny and was a great car scene. Their duet in Michael’s apartment, No More, was comical, riotous and some of the best choreography (by Peter Wood), incorporated about every dance move of the ‘90s and ‘80s. Therapy, another duet between Jon and Susan started off slowly, picking up pace and counterpointing to the conclusion of the song, which left you wondering how they didn’t manage to get tangled up.

The big number in the show is sung by Stephanie as another character, Karessa, a singer from Jon’s Superbia production – Come to Your Senses. This truly showed Stephanie’s vocal range and power, and was simply sublime.

The casting and direction of the three – Jackson, Stephanie and Josh–was magic to see on stage. All three made the audience believe in their characters. The camaraderie between Jon and Michael was just as it would be if you had been friends since kids. The chemistry between Jon and Susan, and the pain of a lost love when they broke up was apparent. Josh was perfect as Michael and though it may have been a trick of the light, I am sure I saw tears in his eyes, when he was telling Jon that he had an illness he would never recover from. Jackson held the audience in his hands as he moved through the scenes, hardly ever leaving the stage. And Stephanie’s Susan was the perfect counterpoint to Jon’s manic episodes, anxiety and fear, keeping him grounded and chilled.

The set comprised of about a half dozen folded chairs, a keyboard which came on and off, and backdrops with views of New York (presumably from the East Side as that was where Jon lived). The lighting complimented each scene, from waking from early dawn on the rooftop, to the inside of the theatre house Jon has his production staged in. The live band was tucked away behind the backdrop atop a platform that served as set piece for Superbia.

There were plenty of costume changes for both Stephanie and Josh, with Stephanie having the most, both playing other minor characters such as Jon’s Mum and Dad, and Rosa, his manager. What was hilarious was that, apart from the counter guy, Stephanie played the male roles and Josh, the female.

tick, tick… BOOM! played to a small but appreciative audience last night at the Crete Street Theatre, Beenleigh. What a shame it was having such a short run.

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