Home Uncategorized Theatre Three Delivers a Gloriously Heartfelt tick tick… BOOM!

Theatre Three Delivers a Gloriously Heartfelt tick tick… BOOM!

by Mike Cutino
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Barbara Anne Kirshner

Who was Jonathan Larson?

Someone with a dream, with laser focus on the prize, and with determination to never give up despite that reverberating tick of time at his door threatening to extinguish that prize.

Does that sound familiar? Was there a time in your life when you reached for the stars only to settle for security or are you still deep in the throes of reaching for that illusive dream?

Jonathan Larson was a young musical theatre composer with a dream of seeing his show produced on Broadway, but how do you move beyond all those rejections to get the YES that will open doors leading to much coveted recognition and success?

When the doors finally opened, one of Broadway’s most successful musicals, Rent, was born, but Larson never saw his work reach its full potential for he passed from an aortic aneurysm the day before the first Off-Broadway preview of his work. Larson received three posthumous Tony Awards and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Rent.

Stephen Levenson, who wrote the screenplay for the Netflix film version said, “tick tick BOOM! is not a musical about his death. It is a musical about perseverance, belief in yourself and what you have to say and that the world needs to hear it.” 

tick tick BOOM! with book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson was first performed in 1990 by Larson as a one-man show. It was revised as a three character musical in 1996 after Larson’s death and premiered Off-Broadway in 2001. The script consultant on the revision was David Auburn with vocal arrangements and orchestrations by Stephen Oremus. It had two Off-Broadway revivals in 2014 and 2015. The Netflix film version released in November 2021 marked the feature directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda and starred Andrew Garfield who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in his role as Jonathan Larson.

tick tick Boom! is a semi-autobiographical musical introducing us to Jon, an aspiring composer living in a SoHo flat in 1990. He is at a crossroads feeling the urgency to achieve success before the clock ticks take him from 29 to 30. Jon has spent his 20’s writing a rock musical, Superbia, while working as a waiter in a New York City diner to support himself. He sees friends, especially his former roommate and best friend, Michael, move up the ladder to a corporate executive position in an advertising agency, driving a BMW and living in a posh city apartment. Michael tries to convince Jon to give up his foolish notion of becoming a composer and join him in the ad agency. His girlfriend, Susan, a dancer has settled into teaching rich uptown kids to dance. She suggests they move to Cape Cod to start a new life, but Jon knows moving away from the city would surely end his pursuit of a career in the theatre. Should he persevere and take his shot at bringing Superbia into a workshop performance where it will have a chance to be seen or will time run out before he can achieve his dream? 

Theatre Three has delivered a gloriously heartfelt tick tick..BOOM! This is a three person musical that calls for versatile performers who can act, sing and dance. Jeffrey Sanzel has brilliantly cast and crafted this 90 minute gem of a show.

Robbie Torres is Jon. Torres ignites the stage with boundless energy and impressive tenor vocals that sail through each song. His interpretation of Jon is multifaceted. We get the feeling he really knows this character and he should since not only is Torres a driving talent onstage, like Jon, he is an accomplished musician and composer.

Veronica Fox is sheer perfection in the role of Susan. She takes on several other characters playing Jon’s agent, Rosa Stevens, Jon’s mom, the secretary, Judy Wright (the head of the advertising agency), Karessa Johnson, (one of the actors in Jon’s workshop production of his musical Superbia). Fox owns a stunning mezzo-soprano that wraps around every song. Her ability to morph from the high voltage number, Come to Your Senses, into Jon’s grovel-voiced agent and back into Susan is captivating.

Jason Furnari turns in a poignant performance as Jon’s best friend, Michael, who goes from starving artist to lucrative executive . He also takes on other characters including Jon’s dad, an executive, a temp, the market research guy, and the counter guy. Furnari’s baritone adds richness to the three-person harmonies and he commands the stage in the song, Real Life.

The band under the expert musical direction of Jeffrey Hoffman breathes energy into this rock score. Jason Allyn’s costume design easily transforms for all the quick changes. Scenic design by Randall Parsons gives the feeling of a SoHo flat with simple writing table stage right, keyboard stage left, a sofa that rolls into place as needed and transparent backdrop that offers a view of the onstage band as it becomes one with the actors onstage. Stacey Boggs’ lighting design complements the scenes by providing mood shifts from rose color to spotlights to blues to flashes of white that underscores turbulence. The well-placed industrial pendant lights stage right and stage left give a city vibe while occasionally flickering to emphasizing feeling in certain scenes.

The opening night audience was enthralled from the first song, 30/90, on with appreciative exclamations after each number that culminated in an exuberant standing ovation at curtain call. 

For a heartfelt and superlative evening of theatre tick tick…Boom! is a must see.

In the Photo

1. Counter Guy (Jason Furnari), Jon (Robbie Torres), Karessa (Veronica Fox)

2. Susan (Veronica Fox) and Jon (Robbie Torres)

3. Counter Guy (Jason Furnari), Karessa (Veronica Fox), Jon (Robbie Torres)

4. Jon (Robbie Torres), Michael (Jason Furnari), Susan (Veronica Fox)

tick tick…Boom! runs through March 16th.

For tickets visit www.theatrethree.com

Box Office-631-928-9100. 412 Main Street, Port Jefferson