Before Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” became one of Broadway’s longest-running musicals, Larson penned a little-known, autobiographical rock monologue titled “30/90.” In the ensuing decades, the monologue was reworked into the stage musical, “tick, tick, BOOM!” which currently playing at the Kennedy Center, under the direction of Emmy® and Tony Award® winner Neil Patrick Harris.
…a show that will resonate with anyone who ever took the path less traveled…
It’s 1990 and struggling playwright Jon (Tony Award® winner Brandon Uranowitz) is approaching his 30th birthday, a milestone that has him re-examining whether he should abandon his dreams of theatrical success. Weighing on his decision is childhood pal Michael’s (Tony Award® nominee Grey Henson) recent departure from acting for a high-paying marketing job and girlfriend Susan’s (Tony Award® nominee Denée Benton) desire to leave New York’s dance scene for a more peaceful life in Cape Cod. The theatre world is finicky, however, and there is no telling what might just happen tomorrow.
The show features catchy melodies that move the narrative forward and provide a glimpse into Jon’s inner thoughts. “Sunday” is a humorous description of Jon’s job as a waiter with a nod to Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Sunday in the Park with George,” and featuring Georges Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte in the background. In the light-hearted “Sugar,” Jon reveals his devotion to Twinkies, and in “Why,” he considers whether a life in the arts is worth all the sacrifice.
Scenic Designer Paul Tate Depoo III has created a set that is, at times, flashy and, at others, subdued, with the action taking us from Jon’s apartment in SoHo to Michael’s sleek new condo—and even Central Park. Ben Cohn leads the quartet of excellent musicians drawn from the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. The ensemble—Kennedy Caughell, Kevin Moon Loh, Yael “Yaya” Reich, and Nikhil Saboo—makes a significant contribution to the audiences’ view of Jon’s inner struggle—including a handful of corporate types, an insensitive father, and a distracted agent.
Whether you loved “Rent” or this is your first opportunity to enjoy Larson’s work, “tick, tick… BOOM!” is a show that will resonate with anyone who ever took the path less traveled, even if only for a little while.
Running Time: One hour and 30 minutes with no intermission.
“tick, tick…BOOM!” runs through February 4, 2024, in the Eisenhower Theatre at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20566. For more information and to purchase tickets, go online.