Review: ‘Tick, Tick…Boom’ at The Highwood Theatre

Originally a one-man show written in 1990, Tick, Tick…Boom was reconceived after Jonathan Larson’s untimely death by David Auburn and produced off-Broadway in 2001. Rewritten to include three different characters, the autobiographical musical still speaks to the insecurities Larson had as he reached the milestone age of thirty with no fruits to show from his hard work as a composer.

L: Max Rome (Jon), Madison Middleton (Susan), and Dylan Kaufman (Mike). Photo courtesy of The Highwood Theatre.
L: Max Rome (Jon), Madison Middleton (Susan), and Dylan Kaufman (Mike). Photo courtesy of The Highwood Theatre.

The musical tells the story of Jon (Max Rome), a struggling composer in New York City trying to make a name for himself in the city’s theatre scene. With his girlfriend Susan (Madison Middleton) and friend Michael (Dylan Kaufman) having both given up in their artistic career pursuits for more “sustainable” careers, Jon wonders if he made the right decision by sticking to his chosen, and currently not so successful, profession.

A combination of talent, from the sound design by Kevin Kearney to the light design by Toly Yarup, which perfectly exposed the artists emotions and the cozy but all-encompassing set, designed by Simon Ellerbe, made for an enchanting show.

The actors wore a contemporary look thanks to Tip Letsche’s costume design. The crew (Simon Ellerbe, Jonah Witte, Owen Gibson) and Technical Director Orion Stekoll, kept the show moving flawlessly in the background.

Actors Max Rome (Jonathan), Madison Middleton (Susan), Dylan Kaufman (Michael), directed by Mae Gilligan, embodied relatable characters going through that familiar point in life when we asked ourselves “was this all I am capable of achieving?”.

From numbers exposing the main character’s worries and anxieties (“30/90”), to the lively and upbeat “Sugar,” Tick, Tick…Boom! shows the audience that maybe after things are not looking so good, in the end everything will be alright; especially after the show’s powerful closing number, sang by the company, called “Louder Than Words.”

For the writer-composer there was a silver lining he never got to see, because later in his career he went on to write the musical Rent before he unexpectedly passed away. The musical received many posthumous awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical and the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

In retrospect, Tick, Tick…Boom gives us some hope, as it shows us that even when you’re in your lowest point when hope is lost, you just don’t know what great things are ahead.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with a 10-minute intermission.

Tick, Tick…Boom plays through Sunday, November 13, 2016 at The Highwood Theatre – 914 Silver Spring Avenue, in Silver Spring, MD 20910. For tickets, call (301) 587-0697, or purchase them online.

Note: Recommended ages 12 and up.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1550.gif


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