Jonathan Larson’s “tick, tick….BOOM!” Just Ticks At Westport Country Playhouse

By Tony Schillaci and Don Church

Three attractive and hard-working professional actor/singers/dancers did well with the material they were given to work with in the late Jonathan Larson’s pre-“Rent,” semi-autobiographical “tic, tick…BOOM!” at the Westport Country Playhouse. 

For the most part the production relies too much on the engaging Colin Hanlon as Jon to carry the burden of this angst-heavy show. Jon, a waiter totally devoted to writing socially relevant musicals,  is supported emotionally by his ballet-teacher girlfriend, Susan, wonderfully played and sung (“Come To Your Senses”) by Pearl Sun, and by his corporately successful friend, Michael, who is both gay and sick. The word AIDS is implied but never spoken.  

Michael is portrayed by motion picture, stage and TV personality Wilson Cruz. He and Pearl Sun create some ‘boom’ throughout the play in a variety of small character parts. They are some of the finest moments in the production. However, the director, Scott Schwartz, should show Cruz what to do with his hands, rather than keeping them in his pockets; it would help to improve his stage technique. 

The show has a few novel songs -“Sunday,” “Sugar” and the rousing “Louder Than Words,” and a story that is focused on the question “Should you follow your dream after thirty or just settle into being comfortable?”    

While many of Larson’s lyrics are touching and help move the plot, too many of the compositions sound familiar.

The book needs some rewrites; the stale 1990’s jokes need to be replaced (i.e. excitement over watching cable TV).  With a little work it could be fixed and Larson’s promising musical might offer less “tick, tick” and more “BOOM!”

Nevertheless, this musical play could attract the elusive younger audience as did the hugely successful “Rent.”  “tick, tick…BOOM” plays through July 18, 2009.

Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court – off Rt. 1, Westport, CT. Up next: Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy “How the Other Half Lives.”  Jul. 28 – Aug. 15. Tickets:  203-227- 4177 or www.westportplayhouse.org.
                             © Copyright 2009. Critics On The Aisle. All rights reserved.

Published in Metroline News Magazine

 

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