Review: Tick, Tick… Boom!

Playing at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne until February 12
The QPAC Playhouse, Brisbane from 1-5 March
The Lyric Theatre, Sydney from 20-26 April
Tickets and more info at:

Tick, Tick… Boom! is an energetic, heartfelt and initimate musical partly based on the life and experiences of the late Jonathan Larson (who would later go on to the undisputed classic musical Rent), chronicling the struggle of those in the creative sphere to make a mark on the world.

Hugh Sheridan is superb as Jon, an anxious but passionate and wildly creative young New York playwright who is desperate to get his latest work Superbia off the ground but finds it increasingly difficult to remain optimistic about his chosen career path as his 30th birthday draws ever closer.

Sheridan instantly draws us into his world and the 1990s setting allows for some subtle commentary on the state of America at that point in time. With a loving girlfriend Susan (Elenoa Rokobaro) and an ever-supportive best friend, Michael (Finn Alexander), Jon’s insecurity about his life and work is played out in a series of musical numbers which propel the story in interesting and creative ways.

What struck me most about Tick, Tick… Boom! is how goofy the musical’s humour and tone is at times, with incredibly broad performances and gags at times. While it starts off seriously, it doesn’t take long before the show’s disarming humour is on display, typified in a serious of wildly over-the-top and hilarious phone calls Jon has with both his boisterous agent and loving dad.

The constant good-natured humour keeps things from ever becoming too serious and Sheridan’s charming and energetic performance keeps us involved in his plight throughout.

As good as Sheridan is though, the limelight is stolen by his supporting cast – with both Rokobaro and Alexander delivering incredible performances and really getting the chance to outshine Sheridan vocally at times. Rokobaro’s show-stopping rendition of what is arguably the musical’s best and most well-known number (Come to Your Senses) is truly the highlight of the show and easily garnered the biggest response from the audience on the night.

The small cast is rounded out by ensemble players Sheridan Adams and Hamish Johnston who fill various roles along the way, with the total cast of five enhancing the feel the small-scale feel of this musical.

At a swift 90 minutes, Tick, Tick… Boom! doesn’t waste a moment of stage time as it follows Jon’s story and reaches a rousing conclusion. While Melbourne’s Comedy Festival is always a superb venue (Come from Away being perhaps the most memorable musical to be staged there), I can’t help but feel like a smaller, minimalist production like Tick, Tick… Boom! might have been better served in a smaller venue (such as Melbourne’s Chapel off Chapel), as the huge Comedy Theatre setting seems to dwarf Jon’s story at times.

Still, this is an impressivily mounted production with excellent performances, an involving narrative and several memorable songs, and serves as a great showcase for the musical talents of Sheridan, who has the talent to possibly go on to become one of our finest stage performers in the coming years.

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