Review: TICK, TICK... BOOM! Blows it Out of the Water at Vintage Theatre

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Jonathan Larson is one of those artists who, because they died young (and infamously), will live on through their treasured work. Rent, of course, is the big one for him. Though his lesser known work, Tick, Tick... Boom! is getting its moment in the sun after the hit Netflix movie version starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Lin Manuel Miranda. It has also found a most recent home at Vintage Theatre as their latest hit production.

The pacing of the show is really smooth from start to finish in control the whole time by a seasoned trio. However, I found some blocking choices by director Shannon McCarthy to be, in a word, elementary. Staged in the smaller of the two theater spaces at Vintage, this production is a very intimate experience for both the audience and the cast. With that in mind, not everything needs to be so theatrical. There is an opportunity from a directorial standpoint to take advantage of the space and intimacy that is missed due to continues pantomiming of tasks and invisible people. I also found it difficult at times to take in the group numbers when the three were staged so far apart from each other I couldn't take them all in at once in the same frame.

The biggest missed opportunity though is the set design and choreo. With no (credited) scenic designer, props master, or choreographer, the production elements don't help much to set the stage for the players. Music Direction by Brandon Bill, however, elevates the entire room. Bill's music direction is what I have come to summarize as "always in great hands," only this time the pit orchestra has a fun moment to contribute to the show beyond their excellent musicianship - they get to act too!

As individuals, the cast members take every opportunity to showcase their many talents in a way that just seems right for this type of show. Between clever acting choices and top notch vocals, this three person cast certainly came to slay (as the kids say). As an ensemble, I think there is room for growth especially between Jon and his two counterparts: the best friend and the girlfriend. That's not to say there weren't special moments, I just want more - give me more!

Though their characters are canonically the least connected, Justin Ostergard as Michael and Tracy Denver as Susan come as quite a complementary pair. The two are also most often singing the difficult harmonies so kudos to them on their musicianship as well. I also really enjoyed the handful of ancillary characters they play in addition to Michael and Susan. Ostergard's "Jon's Dad" was a clear crowd favorite and Denver's "Rosa Stevens" was what I have coined her as, "The Edna Mode of Broadway." But of course, their main characters of Michael and Susan are pivotal to the show - as were their performances. Between a heartwrenching rendition of "Real Life" and a stunning reveal in act two, Ostergard bares it all on the stage. Denver's take on "Come to Your Senses" is among the best I've heard - and I've heard my fair share.

Okay, let me just get like two things out of the way: 1) Watch how you approach your lower vocal register. Be sure to keep the sound forward, even as you go lower so that the tone doesn't get to "wolfy." 2) Open your eyes! Again, because its a small theater space, you have to connect with the audience. Don't shut them out! Aside from that, Andrew Seracuse as the leading man, Jonathan Larson, is wonderful in the role. This is probably the best I've ever seen him, which at this point is quite a few times. A talented vocalist and actor, Seracuse soars so gracefully in the role from beginning to end. He brings to the stage an air of confidence that displays Larson's cocky, neurotic behavior so perfectly.

I stand by my creative team criticisms, but at the end of the day, you could strip this production down to bare bones and you'd still be left with three strong actors and a talent pit orchestra - and that would be more than enough. Tick, Tick... Boom! runs at Vintage Theatre through April 23. Please note, this production has two casts running congruently. This cast runs Friday and Saturday nights as well as Sunday matinees.


Meet the 2023 Company at Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre has announced the casting for their 2023 summer season!  The productions for the summer are Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, The Pirates of Penzance, and Something Rotten!.  And returning in the fall season will be Rocky Mountain Rep’s signature production, Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver.

Maz Jobrani Comes to Comedy Works Larimer Square in June

Maz Jobrani is a comedian, actor and host of his own podcast, Back To School With Maz Jobrani on the All Things Comedy Network. His new stand-up comedy special Pandemic Warrior is now available for streaming on PeacockTV.

Jake Johannsen Comes to Comedy Works Landmark in June

A self-confessed raconteur of weird stories, it is no wonder that Jake Johannsen is one of David Letterman’s favorite comics. With over forty-six Letterman appearances under his belt (not to mention a handful of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Politically Incorrect gigs) Jake is no stranger to late night television.

Nancy Norton Will Play Comedy Works Larimer This Month and Landmark in June

Nancy Norton will perform on Wednesday, May 24 at 8:00 PM at Comedy Works Larimer Square and on Sunday, June 4 at 8:00 PM at Comedy Works Landmark


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