A Close-Up with the Director and Cast of Quackensteele’s ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’

Quackensteele Theatre Company’s production of tick… tick… BOOM! opens this Friday. It’s the inaugural production for the new theatre company. Meet Director Walter Ware III and cast members Madeline Botteri, David Little, and Lou Steele.

Director Walter Ware III:

Walter Ware III (2)

A lot of people know that I have an infatuation with ducks, so when Quackensteele approached me about directing tick… tick… BOOM!, it seemed like a match made in heaven.

What I love about this particular production of TTB is the fact that we are so heavily focused on the story; stripping away any extra elements that would get in the way. The show itself is very special; it is the autobiography of Jonathan Larson as he goes through the struggle of developing and gaining momentum with a new, innovative musical, which we now know as RENT. Larson originally performed a version of tick, tick…BOOM! as a one-man show. David Auburn then converted it into the 10 character, 3-actors-with-a-band production we know today. Through this production, we are privy to Larson’s internal musings, hardships, and triumphs which are so cool because he truly became a major voice in transitioning musical theatre into and real vessel for rock and roll. Anyone who loves Larson, loves RENT, or really just loves rock and roll should come and see this show. This production resounds in so many ways as a coming of age story and watching an individual navigate the difficult and ever winding road of life. The reason this show seems so right for me right now is that life always seems to be changing and you have to adapt and appreciate where you are in the moment.

The cast really makes this particular production work because they all blend very well together and live within this peculiar world. Lou Steele leads the cast as Jonathan with a compelling performance riding this roller coaster of emotions (and vocals) as a struggling artist going from the highest of highs to the deepest lows. David Little gives a solid and strong performance as Michael, Jonathan’s best friend, balancing heartfelt and genuine vocals with a brooding subplot which comes to fruition in the end. Madeline Botteri gives a spectacular interpretation of Susan, Jonathan’s girlfriend, rocking out with a killer “Come to Your Senses.” She brings a level of power and independence to Susan which I think is vital to draw out as she is too often depicted as a victim.

All in all, I’m thrilled to be a part of this process with newly formed QuackenSteele Theatre Company, who I am sure has a promising future in addition to their wonderful aspirations to bring a contemporary voice to the DC/NOVA community.


Madeline Botteri (SUSAN)

Madeline Botteri.

Originally from Portland, Oregon; Madeline came to the DC area for college and (lucky for us) has decided to stay a while!  Maddie is so excited to be a part of tick, tick…BOOM!

When did you start acting? High School.

First show:   Footloose

What drew you to theatre? I grew up playing the piano and always wanted to perform.  I didn’t know it was musical theatre I wanted to do until high school.

What hooked you? I always wanted to perform, always wanted to create music – and one day, I realized it was possible.

Favorite Role: Dot: Sunday in the Park with George

Dream Role: Girl: Once

City of Origin: Portland, Oregon

Astrological Sign: Scorpio

Offstage:  I love food so much, I can’t even begin to describe. I love wine. I worked at a wine bar for a while and that’s where the bug bit me. I love food, and cooking, and yoga.

Favorite Place: I love my family’s lake cabin in Loon Lake, Washington State. So beautiful.




As an army brat, David moved around a lot but spent a majority of his childhood in NOVA. He is learning so much about the story we are trying to tell with tick, tick…BOOM! and can’t wait to tell it on stage. 

When did you start acting? I acted in my first show was when I was four years old. The play took place at a church, and I don’t remember the name of the show, but I had one line: “I’m too tired just thinking about it,” which I said three, or four times.

What drew you to theatre? I grew up playing the piano, singing in church, and performing in choirs. I did a few musicals, but I never considered theatre a career goal. My dream was a to be a recording artist and songwriter. In college, I accompanied theatre performance classes, and through observing from the piano, I realized that I missed being on stage. During my junior year of college, I began taking theatre classes, and my passion for theatre was revived and magnified.

What hooked you? One of my ultimate artistic goals (as a singer/musician or actor) has always been to impact people in a positive way. Whether the impact causes people to take action or just reveals new perspectives, my desire has been for people to learn and take away from my artistic endeavors. Not until I was about to graduate from college did I know that theatre would be my preferred medium. Music and performing have always been weaved in and through my life, so an artistic career was never in question, but when I experienced the joy and wonder of sharing stories and lessons through theatre, I knew I found a home. Theatre combines many facets of art that I love most.

Favorite Role: I played Harpo in The Color Purple at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in 2012. The show, itself, is full of dynamic and emotional journeys, causing people laugh and cry each night, and Harpo’s part in the story is no exception. The process of creating a character in a story that spans 40 years and matures physically, mentally, and emotionally was a unique challenge. I worked hard, and I learned so much. I was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for my work, which was a great encouragement and, in a sense, validation that I had done something outstanding.

Dream Role: As a kid, I always dreamed of Newsies and Aladdin–two of my favorites movies–transferring to a Broadway stage so that I could be a part of them in some capacity. My dreams came true! Although I probably look a little too old to be in Newsies now, there is still hope that I may, one day, play Aladdin.

Country of Birth: Germany

Astrological Sign: Gemini

Offstage:  I love spending time playing the piano or guitar, writing music, or harmonizing with friends (or myself…thanks GarageBand). If I did not go into music or theatre, I probably would have been a photographer, video editor, or graphic designer, which I still enjoy from time to time. Growing up, I spent a lot of time doing outdoor activities like hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing, and snowboarding. I wish I had the time to do these things more regularly.

Favorite Place: My senior year of high school, I traveled with my family to London and Ghana (Accra and Tamale), which was a fun and memorable trip. I loved road tripping through the midwest (Colorado is probably my favorite midwest state–great views, great hiking), and San Diego is also a beautiful highlight.




Lou was born in Charlottesville, VA, but grew up in Northern, NJ, where he got his start as an actor. After twelve years in NYC, Lou has made his way back to VA and we are so happy he is here! On tick, tick…BOOM Lou says, “This is a story that everyone can relate to and having the opportunity to bring that to life and share that experience with the audience is a blessing.”

When did you start acting? High School.

First show:  Kismet

What drew you to theatre? An escape from reality. The ability to experience heightened moments of emotion as another character gives me a rush.

What hooked you? Theatre makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger. It gives me purpose and a sense of belonging.

Favorite Role: Radames: Aida

Dream Role: Jonathan: tick, tick…BOOM!

City of Origin: Charlottesville, VA

Astrological Sign: Capricorn

Offstage: I’m a big sports fan, particularly football.  I love spending time with family and my two cats Gizmo and Ruffino. I enjoy craft beers, especially IPA’s…it’s hard to think of things that don’t involve theatre as theatre is such a big part of my life.

Favorite Place: The arms of my wife.



Tick, tick…BOOM!  May 30th-June 6th

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Directed by Walter Ware III

Musical Direction by Joel DeCandio

The Lab @ Convergence -1819 North Quaker Lane, in Alexandria, VA



Introducing QuackenSteele Theatre Company, LLC.

The article is written by Walter Ware III.


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