Review: TICK, TICK … BOOM at Garden Theater

SNS delivers an explosive production of Larson’s autobiography

By: Sep. 12, 2022
Review: TICK, TICK … BOOM at Garden Theater

Rarely can one sum up the message of an entire musical in three words. However, composer and lyricist Jonathan Larson sums up the message of TICK, TICK ... BOOM! in three words found in the middle of the song, "Johnny Can't Decide:" compromise or persevere.

The show is a thinly veiled autobiography of Larson, who struggled for years trying to come up with the Great American Musical before striking gold with RENT. Jon (played by the mesmerizing Joe Chisholm) finds himself at the crossroads of his life. Down one path is his dream of making it on Broadway. Down the other thoroughfare is the much easier life of trying to make it in the world of marketing and settling down.

Short North Stage captures the tension between doing what is right and doing what is expected in the 90-minute, three-person production at the Garden Theater (1187 High Street in downtown Columbus). During its three-show run from Sept. 9-11, director Anthony C. Daniel, and musical director Jonathan Collura delivered a show that is predictable and yet heartbreaking, understated and yet powerful.

Chisholm's tenor voice brings a sense of longing to songs like "Why." Chisholm conveys Jon's emotions in a way that seems so naturally, one forgets he is acting. Perhaps the most moving part of the show is on the eve of his 30th birthday, Jon receives a message on his answering machine from his idol, Stephen Sondheim. The way Chisholm's eyes water over to the verge of tears was so gut-wrenchingly real that the audience felt like they were in the room with Jon.

Chisholm's chemistry with Jenna Scannelli (who plays Jon's girlfriend Susan) doesn't seem forced, faked, or forged. In the span of the play, the couple's two-month relationship runs its course from infatuation to frustration, and ultimately, disintegration with a hopeful note of reconciliation at the show's end. Since the cast consisted of three actors, what was truly spellbinding was the way Scannelli and A.J. Lockhart jumped through the hoops of being several different characters, each with their own mannerisms and quirks in a matter of seconds in "Sunday."

Lockhart brings a wry wit to the role of Michael, Jonathan's successful, supportive friend who has made it but as a star on Madison Avenue and not on Broadway. In his subtle brag, "No More," Michael describes his luxurious existence in his Parkview apartment world, throwing a nudge to 1970s sitcom THE JEFFERSONS' by swiping part of the show's theme song.

Even with the stellar acting chops of Lockhart, Scannelli, and Chisholm, TICK, TICK ... BOOM! would have been for naught without the outstanding backing of a standout band made up of Collura (keys), Sara Smith (bass), Will Mayer (drums), and Damon Barnett (guitar).

If there was a downside to this performance, it was knowing the backstory of Larson's life. Sadly, Larson never got to experience the success of TICK, TICK ... BOOM! or RENT, dying Jan. 26, 1996 just hours before RENT's first Off-Broadway preview performance. It makes the lyrics from songs like "Why?" seem haunting and poignant: "With only so much time to spend/Don't wanna waste the time I'm given."

Anytime one sees an audience member reduced to tears before the curtain falls, one knows he has seen something powerful. TICK, TICK ...BOOM! delivered that and more.


Feature: MOBY DICKS GONE MISSING at The Abbey Theater Of Dublin Photo
Feature: MOBY DICK'S GONE MISSING at The Abbey Theater Of Dublin

Irish playwright Sean Cooney was six or seven years old when the Hollywood Circus came to his hometown of Youghal, County Cork, Ireland.

Photos: First look at Little Theatre Off Broadways THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE  Photo
Photos: First look at Little Theatre Off Broadway's THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old, who is exceptional at Math but finds people confusing. The play opens with Christopher discovering a dead dog in his neighbor, Mrs. Shears' garden. Despite his father’s warning not to get involved, Christopher decides to investigate the death of the dog.

Photos: First look at Evolution Theatre Companys THE INHERITANCE Part 2 Photo
Photos: First look at Evolution Theatre Company's THE INHERITANCE Part 2

The Inheritance, written by Matthew Lopez, inspired by E.M. Forster’s masterpiece Howards End, “The Inheritance” is an epic examination of survival, healing, class divide and what it means to call a place home. Part 2 - Picking up where PART ONE ended, PART TWO takes its characters on roller-coaster journeys of self-discovery and self-destruction. All lives intersect as they face the decision to heal or to burn. Written by Matthew Lopez, Directed by Joe Bishara, featuring Frank Barnhart, Anthony Baldasare, Niko Carter , Mark P. Schwamberger, Jeff White, Dayton Edward Willison, Euan Baker, Ahmed Ankolkar, Jacob Erney, Bobby Loyd and Josie Merkle. Performances run Sept 21 - 30, 2023 at Abbey Theatre of Dublin, 5600 Post Rd. Dublin, Ohio 43017. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit:

Columbus Symphony Welcomes Families To Halloween Spooktacular Photo
Columbus Symphony Welcomes Families To Halloween Spooktacular

The Columbus Symphony invites families to celebrate Halloween with some “boo-tiful” music, courtesy of the musicians of the symphony and Associate Conductor Andrés Lopera. Learn more about the performance and find out how to attend here!

From This Author - Paul Batterson

Since 2013, Paul Batterson has had a secret life: being a volunteer writer for BroadwayWorld. During this time, he has had the pleasure to see some of the best plays, musicals, and concerts, inte... Paul Batterson">(read more about this author)


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