January 25, 2016 marks twenty years since the untimely passing of Jonathon Larson, the creator of the global smash-hit RENT. Pursued by Bear will be giving Melbourne audiences a rare and exclusive opportunity to experience a slice of musical theatre history and get to know the man who fatefully lived — and died — turning his dreams into a reality.
Directed by Paul Watson and with musical direction by Jess Barlow
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel
Season Dates: Thursday April 21 – Sunday May 1
Tickets from $39
Bookings: Chapel Off Chapel Box Office 03 8290 7000 or www.chapeloffchapel.com.au
For more details: www.pursuedbybear.com.au
“It is the sound of one man’s mounting anxiety. I … am that man.” – Jonathon Larson’
In 1990, while facing his milestone thirtieth birthday, Jonathon Larson wrote and starred in a one-man autobiographical musical, a “rock monologue” he called Bo-hemia in which he adeptly and poignantly depicts a struggling creative artist who wonders how much longer he can sanely balance his passion and goals with the stumbling blocks of life—relationship, job, money, doubts, fears.
Thankfully, Larson persevered. His next creation was the nineties rock musical RENT. Unfairly and now infamously, Larson died in 1996 at the age of thirty five, the night before RENT opened off-Broadway and began its wildly successful global run that showcased Larson’s award-winning brand of art-imitating-life-imitating-art talent.
In 2001, Larson’s one-man show was re-configured into a three-actor chamber musical by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright David Auburn and re-named tick, tick…BOOM! The production starred Raul Esparza and went on to win numerous accolades and awards. Other actors who have portrayed the role of Jon are Neil Patrick Harris and most recently, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Pursued by Bear is dedicated to producing rarely seen musical theatre works with a lot of heart. Strong believers in creating paid opportunities for individuals in the Arts, Pursued by Bear has focused on staging intimate productions. tick,tick…BOOM! follows rave-review productions of Next to Normal (2013) and John & Jen (2015) and an Australian Premiere production of High Fidelity (2014).
Paul Watson (Director) was most recently seen on-stage
professionally as an original cast member in the Tony, Helpmann and Greenroom Award winning musical Once. His other many professional on-stage credits include Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar, Next to Normal, Guys & Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof and Flower-children.
As well as appearing as Mark Cohen and Thomas B. Collins in separate productions, Paul has directed Jonathon Larson’s RENT an impressive three times, including the recent critically-acclaimed revival with Next Step Productions. Other directing credits include Songs for a New World (Theatrespot UK) in London’s West End, Honk! The Musical, Clue! The Musical, A Slice of Saturday Night, Big The Musical, The Pirates of Penzance and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying for which he won Direction, Design and Production Awards. Paul has also directed productions of Singing in the Rain, Fame, Barnum, Anything Goes, Hot Mikado, Oklahoma and Calamity Jane.
“Having been involved in six productions of RENT now and as a devoted RENT fan… I’ve longed to direct tick, tick…BOOM! I’ve been blessed to have had some of the most amazing experiences bringing RENT to the stage. I know there is a wonderful legion of devoted Larson fans, whether they are audience members, actors or musicians, here in Melbourne… and I certainly am one of them. When you work so intimately, especially as a director, on RENT…you feel very close to Jonathan. It’s for this reason I’ve turned down the opportunity to direct tick, tick…BOOM! on several occasions, waiting for the time and moment to be right. I think the combination of Chapel off Chapel, Pursued By Bear and an indy tick, tick…BOOM! is a mix that’s just too good to pass up. I’m looking forward to creating an honest production. We will be looking for three very talented actors to bring the show to life in a very intimate setting. Our design for the show is a comment on Larson’s constant renovation of his work and is looking beautiful and warm and our four-piece band will be fierce, lead by our incredible musical director Jess Barlow. I’m extremely excited to be bringing tick, tick…BOOM! by one of my favourite composers, to Chapel Off Chapel, one of my favourite venues.” Paul Watson – Director
Jess Barlow (Musical Director) is a tertiary trained singer, actor and teacher specialising in Musical Theatre, Classical and Contemporary Voice styles and Piano. Since completing her training at Federation University Ballarat (Musical Theatre)
and Monash University (Bachelor of Arts/Education), Jess has worked extensively as a performer and musical director/vocal coach, in addition to teaching Voice and Piano (AMEB, ANZCA & VCE).
As a Musical Director, Jess’ credits include Aida, Bare: A Pop Opera and Altar Boys, as well as being both performer and musical director for the highly successful season of Matalor: A Hard Rock Opera for StageArt. As a performer, Jess has
been six times nominated for Best Leading Female (MTGV) and performed in the Australian Professional Premiere of Children of Eden (Magnormos). Last year she played ‘Justine Moritz’ in the Australian Premiere of Frankenstein: A New Musical and toured regional Victoria and Melbourne playing the role of Sheila in Hair the Musical. She’s currently fronting the stage at Dracula’s Cabaret as ’Androgyny’ in their new production TerrorByte.