Jonathan Larson, the genius behind ‘Rent’ – perhaps one of the greatest musicals of all time – created a show about his struggle with getting a show produced before ‘Rent’ – the show is ‘tick tick… BOOM’ – and it is now playing at the Bridge House Theatre in SE20 – Penge.
Larson, who died sadly and unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm in January, 1996 – a few weeks before ‘Rent’s’ world premiere – at the age of 35 – was very talented, and as the Writer, Composer and Lyricist of ‘tick tick…BOOM’ his extreme talent was just starting to bloom when he died. But ‘tick, tick…BOOM’ is actually what turns out to be a celebration of his life – telling the story of Jon (a very good Alex Lodge) getting ready to turn 30 and still waiting tables for a living but soon to workshop a show he has written called Superbia. He’s besotted with his girlfriend Susan (a good Georgie Ashford) and is not very jealous of his rich gay best friend Michael (James Hume), who seems to have it all but in all actuality does not. So ‘tick, tick…BOOM’ takes us through the trials and tribulations of Jon’s struggle with the upcoming workshop, and his relationships with his girlfriend and best friend. Songs in this show, including ‘Therapy’ and the opening number ’30/90′ pre-tell the songwriting style of Larson and what was to come in the masterpiece that was ‘Rent.’ If you, like me, are a fan of ‘Rent’ and have never seen ‘tick, tick….BOOM,’ it’s worth the journey to Penge to see this show (the theatre is conveniently located next to Penge East overground train station). If you’ve never seen ‘Rent,’ then this show is also worth a watch as the story is relevant to pretty much all of us as we struggled to become successful in our first jobs. And the cast are all wonderful, and Lodge is just about perfect as Jon, with a glimmer of a sparkle in his eye that tells us the real Jon knew he had a gift.
The show was first performed Off-Off-Broadway in September 1990 by Jonathan Larson in a workshop at the Second Stage Theatre under the title ‘Boho Days.’ It originally premiered in London with Neil Patrick Harris as Jon at the Menier Chocolate Factory and ran for three months. This production ends on October 27th, so book now.
Review by Tim Baros