Jonathan Larson’s “Tick, Tick… Boom!”

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Jonathan Larson’s “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is hitting theaters November 12, 31 years after its creation. Following a strictly theatrical release on this date it will be available on Netflix on November 19. The story follows the main character Jon, who lives in New York in 1990, as he struggles with his career path as a composer and his bohemian lifestyle. 

Jon and his best friend Micheal live a bohemian life in Soho and both are artists trying to make it big time. Jon’s girlfriend Susan wants to leave New York and start a family but she doesn’t think it’s compatible with Jon’s starving artist lifestyle. Jon is conflicted, having to choose between his life-long dream and security, a family and a different career. He’s also nervous about an upcoming workshop for his new musical SUPERBIA, due to his sound being drastically different from typical musicals. His life’s work rests on the success of this workshop: will he be a huge success or a failure? 

Jon will be played by Andrew Garfield (previously starred in The Amazing Spider-Man as Spider-Man) and the film will be directed by none other than Lin Manuel Miranda (creator of Hamilton). Other notable actors in the cast include Vanessa Hudgens (Highschool Musical) and Jordan Fisher (Liv and Maddie). The trailer was released on June 10, the very same day Miranda’s musical “In the Heights” hit theaters. Many musical theater fans are excited by this directing choice as Miranda is often referred to as the Jonathan Larson of this decade. Both have broken the bounds of musical theater, completely redefining what a musical can be and blowing audiences away with their lyrical genius.

Jonathan Larson is the creator of “Rent,” the rock-opera musical based off of the opera “La Boheme.” “Rent” debuted on Broadway in 1996 and won four Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. There had never been anything like it – a rock score with characters who broke the typical broadway mold. The musical discussed HIV/AIDS, addiction and conveyed queer characters and relationships on stage. It was a band of misfits in the limelight, each bringing something different so that anyone could identify with the characters on stage.

Tragically, Larson died at 36, the day before “Rent’s” off-broadway debut. The show moved on to open on Broadway only three months later after being a smash-hit with audiences. In the “Tick, Tick… Boom!” song Louder Than Words there is a lyric: “What does it take to wake up a generation? How can you make someone take off and fly?” Larson worked his whole life to create something meaningful that would resonate with people. “Rent” was that something, his work had paid off majorly but he wasn’t there to see the impact it had on people. Larson’s legacy is, in part, the question: what are we meant to do with the time we have? He created “Rent” having no clue the global phenomenon it would become, creating it only because it’s what he loved.

“Tick, Tick… Boom!” is another piece of this legacy. It’s semi-autobiographical; a celebration of his life and his brilliant work. Originally written as a solo piece, he began to perform it in 1990. After his death in 1996 it was reworked and revised by the playwright David Auburn. After a few runs Off Broadway, on and Off Westend and a national tour, the musical is set to be center stage on Netflix. Finally, after 31 years, the lesser known of Jonathan Larson’s work will be getting the attention it deserves.