Tick, Tick…BOOM! – When Do You Give Up?

Jonathan (Nick Blaemire) is a struggling composer who works at a diner and goes home to an apartment with a bathtub in the kitchen. About to turn an elderly 30 (in 1990) without realizing his dreams, he literally hears his life ticking away. Should he, like best friend and former actor Michael (George Salazar), give up his art i.e. sell out for a secure job? (Michael is an executive at a marketing firm, drives a Beamer and is buying his first apartment.) Should he agree to move to Cape Cod with his dancer girlfriend Susan (Ciara Renee), live quietly, and perhaps teach music? The angst-ridden, self-involved, young man is pinning his hopes on an upcoming workshop of his musical Superbia.


Nick Blaemire, who resembles Larson, is sweetly believable, moves and sings well. As his gay BFF, George Salazar doesn’t seem like someone who has deeply dived into the corporate, materialistic world, a directorial decision that might’ve offered contrast. Otherwise, he’s fine, especially morphing into other characters. Ciara Renee has a good pop voice and imbues her role with modest sincerity, but is too polished to seem like she’d prefer a backwoods existence.

Director Jonathan Silverstein uses the stage particularly well. Characterization and chemistry are less well attended.


On the one hand, this is a young, hyper-personal, self indulgent piece with little melody and cliché-ridden lyrics. On the other, it describes circumstances with which it’s easy to empathize, has an appealing lead, and is energetically and imaginatively staged. The audience is filled with appreciative young people and its run has been extended.

Photos by Carol Rosegg


Superbia, the futuristic rock retelling of George Orwell’s 1984 referred to in this musical, never had a full production. Its autobiographical successor, Tick, Tick…BOOM!  was said to have been a reaction to that disappointment. Imagined as a solo piece, it was revised by David Auburn to the three-actor format we now see after Larson’s 1996 death. Allusions to the support of Stephen Sondheim are actual. Rent, (co-written by Billy Aaronson), the contemporary take on La Boheme by which most theatergoers know its author, was produced Off Broadway to some acclaim.  Larson died the day before its opening. The musical moved to Broadway posthumously garnering its author the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Keen Company presents
Tick, Tick…BOOM!
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson
David Auburn, Script Consultant
Musical Direction Joey Chancey
Directed by Jonathan Silverstein
The Acorn Theatre
410 West 42nd Street
Through December 18, 2016

About Alix Cohen (1750 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.