Toronto’s Angelwalk Theatre kicks off their season with tick, tick…Boom!, the emotionally driven autobiographical musical by Rent creator Jonathan Larson
I find that modern musicals can be kind of hit or miss for me. I’ve seen some that I’ve absolutely loved right from the first number and I’ve seen others that I just haven’t connected with. At first I thought that tick, tick…BOOM! was going to fall into the miss category.
The first two numbers just didn’t touch me in any way. I found myself thinking that the music sounded generic, as if I’d heard it before in other musicals. Not that I could tell you which musicals I thought I’d heard it in.
And then…BOOM! With the third number I was hooked.
There are only three actors in the show, all of whom gave terrific performances; Parris Greaves as Jon, Ken Chamberland as Michael – his best friend, and Laura Mae Nason as Susan – his girlfriend. Even so it sometimes felt as if there was a cast of thousands – well maybe not exactly thousands but lots.
Chamberland and Nason played multiple characters who made short appearances in the play. The sense of a lot of people in busy spaces was produced with recorded sound. It worked really well.
tick, tick…BOOM! was originally written by Larson as a one-person musical. It’s the story of a promising composer who is about to turn 30 and is questioning the choices he’s made. It was written before he wrote Rent. After his death it was revamped to a three person show.
I hadn’t read anything about the show before I saw it so I didn’t know that it was originally a solo piece. During the evening I kept thinking that the way that Jon narrated the action and back story felt like a one- person show. It was very effective. I love one-person autobiographical shows and with this I got the bonus of music and two other actors.
The show was at times funny, at times serious, and very touching – especially the last third. I was definitely not the only person crying: so was the woman next to me and the man in front of me–and there was a lot of nose blowing in the washroom after the show. Although I knew in a vague way that Larson had died I didn’t remember the specifics. Thank goodness. I would have been a sobbing mess rather than just sniffling.
I thoroughly enjoyed tick, tick…BOOM! It’s well worth seeing.
- tick, tick…BOOM! is playing at the Toronto Centre for the Arts Studio Theatre (5140 Yonge St) until October 6
- Performances times are: Tuesday to Saturday at 8 pm, Thursday at 1 pm and Sunday at 2 pm
- Ticket prices range from $25.00 to $55.00
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 1-855-985-2787 or at the box office
Photo: Ken Chamberland, Parris Greaves, Laura Mae Nason – photo by Vincent Perri