Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of Mindplay
Director Neil Patrick Harris has filled the Eisenhower Theater stage with the vibrant performances of Brandon Uranowitz, Denée Benton, and Grey Henson and the assistance of four shapeshifters–Kennedy Caughell, Kelvin Moon Loh, Yael "Yaya" Reich, and Nikhil Saboo–in a kaleidoscope of supporting roles.
Larson is best known for writing the book, music, and lyrics for Rent, which opened in 1996 shortly after his unexpected death at age 35; he posthumously received both the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Tick, Tick... Boom! originated as a solo performance by Larson and was reworked following his death with the addition of two other characters. The supporting roles are new to this production, along with new vocal arrangements and orchestrations (both provided by musical supervisor Stephen Oremus).
The autobiographical drama follows Jon (Uranowitz) in his efforts to break into the New York musical theatre scene in 1990, as he approaches his 30th birthday. He has a loving girlfriend, performer and dance teacher Susan (Benton), and a supportive roommate, Michael (Henson), a former actor who has found more job security working in market research. What drives Jon creatively, and also drives him crazy, is his need to bring something new and vital to an art form he sees as largely tired and out of date. (Mega-musicals? The lack of genuine rock music on Broadway?) He wants to innovate but worries that no one else is interested in what he's offering.
The physical production is as engrossing as the performances. Paul Tate dePoo III's scenic design uses set pieces on wheels to keep up with the propulsive motion of the plot. Nathan Scheuer's video and production design often dominates the scene, from atmospheric overviews of New York skylines and neighborhoods to live video of the actors as they perform. Cory Pattak's lighting design and Haley Parcher's sound design work to draw in the audience, while Andrea Hood's costumes make a strong impression.
Five onstage musicians, conducted from the keyboard by Ben Cohn, power the score, from the showstopping "Come to Your Senses" to the ingenious "Sunday," which reimagines Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George as taking place in the diner where Jon waits tables.
The Broadway Center Stage production of Tick, Tick... Boom! runs through February 4, 2024, at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
Directed by Neal Patrick Harris
Jon: Brandon Uranowitz