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tick, tick ... BOOM! Plenty of the same at the New Conservatory Theatre Center


Written by Vince Flores

The creator of RENT, the musical that defined a generation, comes the story of a young composer on the eve of his 30th birthday. Jonathan Lason won a Pulitzer Prize and three Tony Awards, A legacy is defined by all the things he didn’t get to do. The morning that RENT, the first show to find mainstream success, began previews Off-Broadway, Larson died of an aortic tear and became a musical theater martyr on the spot. He was 35.  The one thing he did do in his tragically short life was turn 30. Its birthday provides the animating conflict of tick, tick ... BOOM!, an autobiographical “rock monologue”. Larson performed in the early ’90s that was reworked into a three-actor stage production a few years after his death.

tick, tick ... BOOM! does a much stronger job of endearing us to Larson’s plight and sharing is grief.  Set in the days before he turns 30, the show centers on Jon played by Chris Morrell a composer living in SoHo in 1990 who barely supports himself. His relationship with his girlfriend Catalina Kumiski, is on the rocks, his best friend Marcus J. Paige is harboring a secret, and he’s preparing for the workshop of a musical called Superbia has eaten up the second half of his 20s. The clock moves toward 30, as confused Jon gulps down fears about his legacy.

All of this, works to; tick, tick ... BOOM!’s: we’re allowed space in the brisk 90-minute runtime to sink into Jon’s turmoil until we locate our own personal and professional anxieties. That sense of audience is helped immensely by Chris, who plays Jon as a gentle slacker who also happens to be a dreamer. Kumiski and Paige, who supplement their girlfriend-and-best-friend roles by playing the entire supporting cast, are game partners. “Come to Your Senses,” brings the house down. Jones sometimes fails to breathe life into this dialogue, he more than makes up for it as a vocalist.

Everything lands. A few songs, like the doo-woppy “Green Green Dress” and kitsch Twinkie ode “Sugar” are wisely picked from the film adaptation. At its best, tick, tick ... BOOM! plunges us into the uneasy headspace of a lost legend of concept for one of his most famous moments. After an hour and a half with Jon, witnessing the peaks and valleys of his career, you walk is certain of one thing. There is one way to make this work with a BOOM and that is some old fashion crackle. 

New Conservatory Theatre Center

tick, tick … Boom

Book, Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Directed and Choreographed by Cindy Goldfield,

Musical Direction by Ben Prince

Script Consulting by David Auburn

Vocal Arrangements and Orchestrations by Stephen Oremus

Now Extended to June 16th

New Conservatory Theatre Center Theatre Center

25 Van Ness Avenue at Market Street, San Francisco, CA. 

Tickets are available online at, by box office phone at 415-861-8972, or by email at


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