Ryan Mooney and Jonathan Larson

Fighting Chance Productions

tick... tick... BOOM! by Jonathan Larsen

Dates and Venue 6 - 22 April 2009 @ 8.00pm | Jericho Arts Centre

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Jonathan Larson who died at 36 from a rare disease called Marfan Syndrome composed only two off-broadway  musicals. The musical that brought him international fame, posthumously, Rent,  premiered in 1996 (Larson died suddenly the day before it premiered in New York), and this musical in that same year won the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award, and eventually became a big hit inernationally.

His second composition, tick…tick…BOOM!   was meant to be a one-man musical which he performed himself in 1990 (Youtube has a fragment of this solo performance).  Producers then decided to convert this one-man show to three characters scripted by another Pulitzer Prize winner, David Auburn who commented: “I didn’t really re-work Jonathan’s piece as much as I edited the script. I worked off  more than five drafts of the material, and I just shaped and re-orchestrated it for three performers.” This version received its world premiere off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theatre in June 2001.

Artistic Director Ryan Mooney, who is a big fan of the musical Rent, has come up with an innovative version of  tick…tick…BOOM! at the Jericho Arts Theatre, which I thought was appropriate for a musical with three characters. The mise en scene is quite interesting.  The audience is seated on both sides of the stage, as though watching a tennis match, where the actors would sometimes be on opposite sides, and you’d have to move your head from left to right, back and forth. It was because I was sitting in the front row.  I suggest that, if you get there early, to pick the seats at the back and that way, you wouldn’t be moving your heads too much.

But the actors and musicians were fabulous. Brandyn Eddy (Jon) is a look-alike of Jon Larson, but after viewing Jon Larson in Youtube, I think Eddy should act more crazy, more intense which seemed to be the composer’s personaity. The other two actors played multiple roles, and were just fantastic.  Ashley Siddals (Susan + other roles) was sexy when she had to be sexy, dramatic in her dialogues, and her voice was simply stellar.  Jeremy Lowe (Michael+other roles) is a fabulous singer and actor, and has appeared in various musicals in Vancouver’s Arts Club, Carousel Theatre and others.

The musicians who were seated on an elevated stage under music directors Melissa Braun and Sarah Jaysmith did a stupendous job accompanying the singers with the music.  It was interesting to see how Eddy would mimic playing on the keyboards while the actual playing was done by the musicians.

In an inerview by TAOTB, Mooney said that this musical has never been produced in Vancouver before and when asked why he decided to produce this play, he answered: “I love the music. The show was put together after the immense success of Rent….What I think people will get from it though is the idea of - you can do what you want, and you can be happy at it…”

Mooney will be mounting the Canadian Regional Theatre Premiere of Rent in August and he said he’s already received upwards of 50 headshots and resumes and musicians messaging him on Facebook.

Congratulations to the cast and production staff, particularly the often-forgotten unsung hero of productions, stage manager Liz Wilton, for doing theatre the way theatre should be done, and I wish them all the best for the rest of this musical’s run.

© 2009 Ed Farolan