By Sandi Durell
The autobiographical revival of iconic multi Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner, Jonathan Larson’s life story, is alive and well through the Keen Company production at the Acorn Theatre on Theater Row.
Voicing the frustrations of an aspiring composer who listened to his heart and soul, Larson eventually realizes his dream and goal seeing Broadway’s ground breaking “Rent” revolutionize a new vision of theater in the 1990s. The original productions began at Second Stage Theatre and New York Theatre Workshop in 1990, as well as the Village Gate in 1991, with a production at NYTW in 1995, and eventually opened on Broadway in 1996, after Larson’s untimely death.
The current BOOM! is the tick, tick,ticking of the clock that becomes more and more painful as Jonathan’s (brilliantly brought to life by the exceptionally talented Nick Blaemire) thirtieth birthday approaches, his best friend and roommate Michael (a well chosen George Salazar – who plays additional roles as Jon’s father, etc.), makes his way up the ladder of corporate America’s Madison Avenue (new luxury car and apartment) who offers a job opportunity to the sullen Jon, who waits tables, while Jon’s girlfriend Susan, a dancer, pressures him to move to Cape Cod. She’s thinking white picket fence and children. It all congeals in the opening of “30/90” and “Johnny Can’t Decide.”
Sexy Susan (powerful voiced Ciara Renee) and Jonathan are loving and lovely in “Green Green Dress” (that would be a pleasure to unwrap) but his mind is elsewhere with an upcoming workshop of his new musical Superbia that he’s worked on for five years. They argue sensationally in the lyric driven “Therapy.” The Twinkie favorite “Sugar” is just another vehicle to show off the major talents of all three.
Sadness ensues when Michael tells Jonathan he is sick – HIV Positive.
The big workshop day approaches, Jonathan a nervous wreck having phone conversations with his agent Karessa (Renee) whom he hasn’t spoken to in months, who assures him she’ll have some important people in the audience. . . like Stephen Sondheim!
Seemingly nothing happens post workshop, other than friends telling him how wonderful Superbia is at his big birthday party until he gets that call from none other than Mr. S who wants to meet with him. Dreams do come true as the tick, tick ticking finally subsides, the message always a positive reminder.
The triplets perform all tasks – zipping the very movable furniture, tables, chairs and piano around the basically bare stage (all nicely arranged by Steven Kemp), as they sing and dance (choreography by Christine O’Grady), the musicians housed upstage and easily viewable. Special kudos to director Jonathan Silverstein as his nimble hand works wonders deftly moving the 90 minute piece along. By the time it’s over, you’ll wonder where the time went.
This is a BIG little show with an exuberant, hi-energy cast that punctuates the humor and levels it with just the right amount of pathos.
Tick,Tick…BOOM! www.KeenCompany.org – Theatre Row, 410 West 42 St. – 90 minutes, thru November 20, 2016
Photos: Carol Rosegg