Salazar, Nick Blaemire, Ciara Renee photo by David Gersten
By Eugene Paul
unmistakable signs of Jonathan Larson’s original, passionate monologue
depicting his delightfully awful struggle to do what he simply had to do: make
words and music for the theater, Keen Company artistic director Jonathan
Silverstein with the enormous help of David Auburn’s script consultancy, exultantly
presents Larson’s cry to the heavens and the theatrical gods as a three
character triumph of resounding success. Larson ought to be looking down,
beaming. He has high flying Nick Blaemire, George Salazar and Ciara Renee as
the delicious triumvirate who are really many more than three sailing on music
director Joe Chancey’s inspired band’s playing. They’re so good you almost
don’t notice that this is twice a twice told tale. But then, what isn’t.
(electric Nick Blaemire) makes everything crystal clear in the first
number,”30/90”. He is turning thirty. The Great Divide. And it’s already
1990. And his buddy Michael (awfully good George Salazar) is already making
pots of money and living the highlife and he’s still waiting tables, and, of course,
his girl friend, Susan (smashing Ciara Renee) wants to get married already.
All right, all right, I know, but instead of driving you out of the theatre,
you’re enthralled with the incredible performance Nick is exploding all over
the stage. He’s not quite Jonathan yet, he’s just his own extraordinary self
and that’s plenty enough to egg you into wanting more and more . And you get
away. Girl friend Susan whips off her little sweatery shrug and shazam! she’s
in a svelte green velvet dress and they are in a more super than svelte next
song, ‘Green, Green Dress”, what else? Which carries all of us into their not
so novel oh so familiar dilemma but the music is so beckoning and the
performers are so dazzling, you are ready to go wherever they go. Right into
“Jonny Can’t Decide”. Is Jonathan going to give up this fruitless quest? He
can’t even get hold of his agent. But then, Jonathan segues into “Sunday”, and
you hear for yourself, the kid’s got it. There’s unmistakable vibes that reach
to another composer’s “Sunday” but you don’t even want to mention his name
because this kid, Jonathan, is hurting so much and he’s so damn good.
now, you don’t care that you know this story so well – too well – because the
dynamic trio, Jonathan, George and Susan are so good. George becomes
Jonathan’s father waiting for him to wake up and be sensible and Susan becomes,
oh, a string of somebodies in Jonathan’s life and so does George. But director
Silverstein keeps them so full of that old joie de vivre that you are full of
it too if you’ll pardon the expression, going with their rocketing all over the
stage, just happy that the piano and the couch and the other big stuff is on
wheels in order to be whizzable into different settings because what is a musical
without different settings. The true constant, Jonathan, is the core around
which all else swirls and he is worth our constant attention, he is GOOD.
is a total complimentary complement to Jonathan Larson, composer, lyricist,
book writer, a hugely missed talent. There isn’t a moment that lays an egg in
the fifteen songs that make up this refreshingly familiar musical, not only
because the songs are sterling but because the company delivering them is also
sterling, sterlingly presented. The costumes by Jennifer Pair are inventively
altered and displayed to extend their unexpected versatility, which can also be
said about the Dynamic Three. Steven Kemp’s setting accommodates not only the
febrile antics Silverstein and choreographer Christine O’Grady demand of their
wonderful trio but also Joe Chancey and his band, dimly upstage but vigorously
forefront on the ears. Let us all remember that Tick, Tick…BOOM! came
first, before the vaunted Rent that catapulted Jonathan Larson to a
fame made bitter by his untimely demise.
Tick…BOOM! too, still carries his flame.
the Acorn, Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street. Tickets:$85. 100
min. Thru Dec 18. Telecharge.com.