Jonathan Larson is most famous for writing the groundbreaking 90's musical RENT, but diehard fans will know his autobiographical monologue TICK, TICK...BOOM! which was posthumously turned into a 3-hander and is playing at the Park Theatre this month. Bronagh Lagan, the show's director, shared some thoughts on the show and the company behind this production.
"TICK, TICK...BOOM! originally began life as an autobiographical rock monologue performed by Jonathan Larson and was formerly called Boho Days. During the time of writing the piece in 1990, Jonathan was turning thirty and was working at the Moondance Diner whilst trying to establish himself as a writer in New York. In 2001 the rock monologue was adapted into a three-actor musical by David Auburn which premiered at the Jane Street Theatre.
Jonathan started out as an actor, though he had a great passion for music. His decision to change paths coincided after meeting his hero, Stephen Sondheim, who told him there were a lot more starving actors out there, than starving composers. Sondheim later became Jonathan's mentor and is mentioned a number of times in TICK, TICK...BOOM! (though Jon dare not speak his name...) The show's song "Sunday", is a humorous homage to Sunday in the Park with George. There are many other Sondheim references in the song "Why", including a tritone made famous by West Side Story. I wonder how many references you can find?
Music was important to Jonathan from an early age. As a child, he was taken to see a children's version of Puccini's opera La Bohème. From that seed, an idea would slowly germinate over twenty years and grow into the Broadway sensation RENT.
On January 25 1996, the day of the last dress rehearsal for RENT, Larson died from a foot-long tear in his aorta. Later in 1996, his sister accepted the Pulitzer Prize on his behalf. RENT became a Broadway sensation and attracted fans around the United States and the world. Though nothing would bring Larson back to life, death could not silence the effect of his work.
It has been a great privilege to work on such an incredible piece and it has been a pleasure working with such a generous and talented company of actors and creatives. I hope you enjoy the next 90 mins in the 90s."
Jonathan Larson bio: Jonathan Larson received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for RENT. He also won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical and the 1994 Richard Rodgers Award for RENT and twice received The Gilman & Gonzales-Falla Theatre Foundation's Comendation Award. In 1989 he was granted the Stephen Sondheim Award from American Music Theatre Festival, where he contributed to the musical SITTING ON THE EDGE OF THE FUTURE.
In 1988 he won the Richard Rodgers Development Grant for his rock musical SUPERBIA, which was staged at Playwrights Horizon. He composed the score for the musical J.P. MORGAN SAVES THE NATION, which was presented by En Garde Arts in 1995. Mr. Larson performed his rock monologue TICK, TICK...BOOM! at Second Stage Theatre, The Village Gate and New York Theatre Workshop. In addition to scoring and song writing for Sesame Street, he created music for anumber of children's book-cassettes, including Steven Spielberg's An American Tail and Land Before Time.
Other film scores include work for Rolling Stones magazine publisher Jann Wenner. He conceived, directed and wrote four original songs for Away We Go!, a musical video for children. RENT, his rock opera based on La Boheme, had its world premiere on February 13, 1996 at New York Theatre Workshop. Mr. Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996, ten days before his 36th birthday.