Jonathan Larson wrote the smash hit Broadway musical Rent. How he got there involved pain and persistence. That’s the subject of Tick, Tick … Boom!
Living in New York with his dancer girlfriend, Larson (Andrew Garfield) dreams of being a Broadway musical writer.
His creativity is recognised by his close and loyal friends, but he is on the cusp of 30 and he hasn’t made it yet. The way he sees it time is running out.
After all, Stephen Sondheim was only 27 when he had his first Broadway success.
Larson is perpetually short of money and works in a diner to try to make ends meet.
For the past eight years he has been writing what he hopes will get him his big break – the futuristic Superbia. More recently, he’s even managed to get Sondheim on board as a mentor.
But he is missing a key number in the second act and with barely days until his first run through in front of Broadway producers he has a severe case of writer’s block.
Further, he has neglected his best friend and his girlfriend, Susan (Alexandra Shipp), who has a life changing decision of her own with which to contend.
Through a mixture of dialogue and catchy tunes (the latter written by Larson), the story unfolds.
The music woven into the script by Steven Levenson presents us with a compelling and moving narrative arc.
Tick, Tick … Boom! is a tale of triumph and tragedy.
We’re in the midst of the AIDS pandemic at that time and Larson has witnessed a number of his friends pass away, the oldest only 27.
Garfield is a bundle of energy in the lead, a dominant force. He acts and sings up a storm in a brilliant characterisation.
He is surrounded by talent too.
Shipp is vivacious and down to earth as girlfriend Susan.
Robin de Jesus plays Michael, his childhood friend and wannabe actor who ended up in advertising. de Jesus is totally believable as the sensitive and loyal buddy and sometime roommate.
Vanessa Hudgens knocks it out of the park as one of two vocalists in Larson’s band, alongside Joshua Henry. Both have real presence.
And let’s not forget Jonathan Marc Sherman as Ira Weitzman, the bloke willing to stick his neck out for Larson. He is most credible.
The music woven into the script presents us with a compelling and moving narrative arc.
Tick, Tick … Boom! is at times uplifting and buoyant, while never lacking in pathos.
We feel the doubts and bumps … a sure sign the movie is presenting us with a slice of magic.
There is much to like about the way the material is handled, with Garfield showcasing his enormous range. You simply can’t turn away.
Rated M, Tick, Tick … Boom! scores an 8½ out of 10.