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A CurtainUp Review
tick, tick. . .Boom!

It's no big deal. What's thirty? Just, you know, the end of youth— Jon
tick, tick. . .Boom!
Colin Hanlon, Pearl Sun and Wilson Cruz
(Photo: T. Charles Erickson)
Director Scott Schwartz revisits the musical he helmed off-Broadway in 2001 with a slick new production of Jonathan Larson's tick, tick. . .Boom! playing at the Westport Country Playhouse. In this glimpse into the life of Jonathan Larson, who penned the book, lyrics and music for the show, Conlin Hanlon stars as Jon.

Set in his apartment (nicely created by designer David Farley to include brick exterior walls and a rooftop that doubles as a home for the band) the titlerefers to the ticking clock in Jon's life just before he turns 30, a passage that marks his change from "young adult" to just plain adult. It's 1990, before his best-know work, Rent, premiered. Jon's song writing career hasn't taken off and he has all of his hopes pinned on an upcoming workshop of Superbia. His girlfriend, Susan (Pearl Sun) wants to leave the city and have a family (and a dishwasher). His best friend, Mike (Wilson Cruz), who "sold out" an acting career for the perks of corporate marketing, offers him an opportunity to follow suit.

"What is real life?" Jon ponders, as he flirts with an actress starring in Superbia (Sun and Cruz assume the identities of Jon's agent, his parents and others in flashback-like scenes during Jon's narration). Is he missing his one chance for family and a normal life? How long should he wait for his big break? The questions become even more urgent when Mike reveals that he is dying and urges Jon to think about heading to New England with Susan. In the end, the composer's hero, Stephen Sondheim, helps point him in the right direction.

Hanlon is engaging as the angst-filled composer trying to remain true to himself and his dreams and his strong vocals don't make us miss Raul Esparza, who originated the role off-Broadway, too much. The cast seems to be having a good time, especially when performing Christopher Gattelli's snappy and precise choreography. The singing voices of Cruz and Sun are less powerful and lack the oomph needed to carry over the rock music. Schwartz guides a solidly tight, engaging production, however, as though the show has matured with him through the years.

Tick, tick. . .Boom!
Book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson
Directed by Scott Schwartz
Cast: Wilson Cruz (Michael), Conlin Hanlon (Jon), Pearl Sun (Susan)
Chroeographer: Christopher Gattelli
Musical Director: Charles Czarnecki
Scenic Design: David Farley
Lighting Design: Herrick Goldman
Sound Design: John Weston
Costume Design: Ilona Somogyi
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport, CT
Performances: Tuesdays at 8pm, Wednesdays at 2pm and 8pm, Thursday and Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm.
Tickets $30-$55 Student and educator discounts are available (toll free 1-888-927-7529) or
June 23-July 18, 2009
Review by Lauren Yarger based on performance of June 30, 2009

Musical Numbers
  • 30/90
  • Green Green Dress
  • Johnny Can't Decide
  • Sunday
  • No More
  • Therapy
  • Real Life
  • Sugar
  • See her Smile
  • Come To Your Senses
  • Why
  • Louder Than Words
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