Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical is a catchy display of vulnerability as Jon, a talented but struggling musical theatre composer contemplates life as he approaches a milestone 30th birthday in 1990. With a focus on the AIDs epidemic, it is very much set in its time, but themes around the fear of aging and achieving your potential remain universally relevant.
Encore! Performing Arts, a Midlands-based amateur company brings Larson’s show to life at the Duchess Theatre in Long-Eaton. The show absolutely suits the small stage and intimate venue.
This version, produced by Adam Guest and directed by Matt Powell, expands the earlier stage vision of only three actors to include more of the ensemble you may be familiar with from the recent Netflix adaptation. This group brings numbers to life, especially in the diner scene where their expressions and interactions are a particular delight.
The acting is great from the primary cast members, Andrew Bould as Jon, Paolo Elias as Michael, and Danielle Hall as Susan, all getting across the angst, frustration and desperation of this pivotal time of life, very much emulating the promising young man the show centres on. Elias gives a particularly heartfelt performance in Real Life. While there’s certainly some vocal talent between them, it is considerably drowned out by overpowering drums or unfortunately mics dipping out for some musical numbers.
The set design is striking with sheet music streaming from the piano centre stage. This nifty piece of set served a duel function as a screen, projecting backgrounds and text to clue you in on details. The stage was otherwise bare besides four flight cases containing all the props you could imagine which the cast skilfully navigate.
Including no interval in this 90 minute show keeps the pressure on as the clock ticks, counting down those final moments in Jon’s 20s. With most people familiar with Larson’s music from Rent, it’s great that people are experiencing his other works
Tick Tick Boom is performing until 6th May. Tickets can be found here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/ticketshop/iframe/event.php?eventhash=e-lmzyej&target=_BLANK