There is a sense of awe the moment the audience steps inside Chapel Off Chapel’s The Loft. Discarded sheet music is scattered around the floor of the theatre, creating an intriguing entrance pathway. The intimate presentation space is the ideal venue for this musical, which is set in a New York apartment. Along each side of the theatre are an array of objects one would find in an apartment. At the back are suitcases. No doubt, there is more detail and references to the subject of the story in these objects than it is possible to fully appreciate. Production Designer Sarah Tulloch has created a visual feast, which really needs to be consumed before the show commences, because once it starts, the action is so mesmorising it’s likely you won’t find yourself drifting away to look at the set. The clever use of a spinning piano in the centre of the stage and simply the addition of some chairs as needed, results in a very slick show that moves effortlessly from one scene to another.
Tick, tick, BOOM tells the story of Jon, a musical theatre composer who is approaching his 30th birthday and evaluating what he is yet to achieve in life, particularly in comparison to his childhood friend, Michael who seems to have it all. The musical is an adaptation of the original one-man autobiographical piece, Bohemia, written by Jonathan Larson. During tick, tick, BOOM! Jon talks about his upcoming workshop of a new musical Superbia (and ultimately, RENT). It’s a fascinating and poignant insight into the life and mind of a composer. The themes are universal and just as relevant now as they were to Larson when it was first written.
From his opening line, Luigi Lucente commands the stage and delivers a stunning performance as the struggling New York musical theatre composer, Jonathon Larson. An accomplished pianist, Lucente provides his own accompaniment for some of the show, adding to the realism of this story. His performance is simply captivating.
Paul Watson’s direction is superb. He has managed to find all the lighter moments of the story line, providing plenty of laughs and this helps the audience immediately connect and engage with the character of Larson. Larson is a little quirky, but very likeable.
Angela Scundi plays Jon’s girlfriend, Susan, as well as several other minor roles. Scundi transitions from one to another with such clear distinction that the audience can readily identify each new character. Vocally, she is superb and beautifully matches Luigi Lucente. The pair share a natural chemistry.
As best friend Michael, Quin Kelly provides a suitable contrast to the stressed and creative, Jon. Michael has achieved success in the corporate world and invites Jon to give up the pursuit of a Broadway dream and join him. Although Kelly has a few struggles with the complexity of the vocals in this piece at times, overall he delivers a solid and appropriately under-played performance.
Further vocals and minor roles were delivered Rebecca Heatherington and Mitch Roberts. As musical director, Jess Barlow has done an excellent job bringing this complex music to life with tight harmonies and a full and rich sound supported by n excellent four piece band. There were a few early moments when the vocals weren’t quite balanced but the sound levels were quickly adjusted.
tick, tick, BOOM! is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining work. I went in thinking it’s a must-see show for all the lovers of RENT. I left thinking it’s a must-see show for lovers of musical theatre in general. Not only is this a rarely performed musical, this is a particularly good production that won’t disappoint.
tick, tick, BOOM! is now playing at Chapel Off Chapel until May 1st.