Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Jonathan Larson's TICK, TICK...BOOM! Comes to Portland Center Stage Next Month

Performances run When: August 20 - September 18, 2022.

Jonathan Larson's TICK, TICK...BOOM! Comes to Portland Center Stage Next Month

The work of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning composer Jonathan Larson returns to Portland Center Stage after a 7-week run of his blockbuster musical Rent. Larson's autobiographical musical tick, tick ... BOOM! was written before Rent and is in many ways its origin story. Featuring a similarly rocking score, it offers a backstage tour of the love and sweat Larson put into making his Broadway musical dreams a reality.

PCS Artistic Director Marissa Wolf will direct tick, tick ... BOOM!, joined by Music Director Ash, and Choreographer Muffie Delgado Connelly. The cast includes two artists making their PCS debuts: Jesse Weil (Fiddler on the Roof, 1st National Tour) as Jon and Lauren Steele (well-known in Portland by her stage name Lo Steele; Bella: An American Tall Tale, Portland Playhouse) as Susan. One of PCS's 2022 JAW featured playwrights, Tyler Andrew Jones (Even Faster Than a Blink), returns in the role of Michael.

"I'm thrilled to be working with this incredible team of artists on a show that is about the joyful, messy, difficult space of creation," said Artistic Director Marissa Wolf. "At the heart of this playful, rocking music is a question of how we each create a path for ourselves so that we can stand and move the world."

Previews for tick, tick ... BOOM! begin on August 20, opening night is August 26, and it runs through September 18 on The Armory's U.S. Bank Main Stage. Season tickets are on sale now and regular tickets will go on sale on August 2, 2022.

Larson wrote the book, music and lyrics for tick, tick ... BOOM! and first performed it as a solo rock monologue in 1990. After his untimely death in 1996, 10 days before his 36th birthday, tick, tick ... BOOM! was revamped by playwright David Auburn (script consultant) as a three-actor piece, with vocal arrangements and orchestrations by Stephen Oremus. It premiered Off-Broadway in 2001, followed by a London production in 2005 starring Neil Patrick Harris. The musical was made popular once again following the 2021 Netflix movie directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. tick, tick ... BOOM! is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).

Whether it's Rent or tick, tick ... BOOM!, Jonathan Larson's music and storytelling spans the test of time. In tick, tick ... BOOM!, Larson taps into what it feels like to stand at the edge of a life transition, doubting everything, and wondering if you'll be able to do work that matters. After bringing Rent to audiences in Portland, whose raves included "the music, the energy, the poignant message; just as true today, as it was when written," this production of tick, tick ... BOOM! offers the opportunity for a deeper, more intimate dive into the life of a composer who left an indelible mark on musical theater and popular culture.

Before he electrified the world with Rent, Jonathan Larson was a young man struggling to make his mark in the theater. While he waits tables and seeks his big break, the pressure to give it all up grows as Jon approaches his 30th birthday. Will he sell out to keep the lights on? Will he lose the love of his life? Will he finally write the soaring song that can change everything? And if he does, will anyone be there to see it? Set in 1990 and scored by the music that redefined a genre, tick, tick ... BOOM! cracks open the ticking-time-bomb world of creating theater to celebrate the power of finding your voice and holding on to a dream.

Jonathan Larson received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Rent. He also won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical and the 1994 Richard Rodgers Award for Rent and twice received The Gilman & Gonzales-Falla Theatre Foundation's Commendation Award. In 1989, he was granted the Stephen Sondheim Award from American Music Theatre Festival, where he contributed to the musical Sitting on the Edge of the Future. In 1988, he won the Richard Rodgers Development Grant for his rock musical Superbia, which was staged at Playwrights Horizon. He composed the score for the musical J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation, which was presented by En Garde Arts in 1995. Mr. Larson performed his rock monologue tick, tick... BOOM! at Second Stage Theatre, The Village Gate, and New York Theatre Workshop. In addition to scoring and song writing for Sesame Street, he created music for a number of children's book-cassettes, including Steven Spielberg's An American Tail and Land Before Time. Other film scores include work for Rolling Stone's magazine publisher Jann Wenner. He conceived, directed, and wrote four original songs for "Away We Go!," a musical video for children. Rent, his rock opera based on La Bohème, had its world premiere on February 13, 1996, at New York Theatre Workshop. Jonathan died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996, 10 days before his 36th birthday. His music (including songs cut from his shows) is archived in the Library of Congress.

Playing the central character Jon is Jesse Weil (The Other Side of Paradise at Ars Nova and Hair at Pentangle Arts), with Lauren Steele as Susan (who has performed under the stage name Lo Steele at the Waterfront Blues Festival and others, and won a Best Solo Performer Award for her appearances in Queen's Girl in Africa at Clackamas Repertory Theatre). Tyler Andrew Jones takes on the role of Michael (Jones blew the house down in his performance as Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at PCS, when he understudied for both Hedwig and Yitzhak). PCS's Photo/Video Designer Alec Cameron Lugo will understudy for Jon and Michael (Lugo appeared in the Emmy-nominated episode of Documentary Now!, "Original Cast Recording: Co-op" and Last Stop on Market Street at Oregon Children's Theatre). Netty Mckenzie (Last Stop on Market Street at Oregon Children's Theatre and Crowns at Portland Playhouse) joins the cast to understudy the role of Susan.

Director Marissa Wolf (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) is joined by Music Director Ash (Macbeth and Hedwig and the Angry Inch); Choreographer Muffie Delgado Connelly (Earth Without Borders/Tierra Sin Fronteras); scenic design by the NY-based design collective dots (La Traviata at Wolf Trap Opera); Costume Designer Lucy Wells (PCS's Costume Shop Supervisor), Lighting Designer Masha Tsimring (Der Freischütz at Wolf Trap Opera), and Sound Designer Sammi Kelly (How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying). They're joined by PCS's Literary Manager Kamilah Bush as dramaturg, with Stage Manager Janine Vanderhoff; Assistant Stage Manager Dana Petersen; and Assistant to the Director Delphon "DJ" Curtis Jr.


More Hot Stories For You

Portland Opera Announces 2022/23 Ensemble Leaders Fellowship ProgramPortland Opera Announces 2022/23 Ensemble Leaders Fellowship Program
September 30, 2022

Portland Opera has announced the second year of the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship Program—a new program to move the art form forward by providing career advancement opportunities for individuals who have been historically underrepresented in the world of opera, in both administrative and artistic roles.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Comes To Portland in OctoberTO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Comes To Portland in October
September 29, 2022

The first National Tour of the history-making production of To Kill a Mockingbird, based on Harper Lee's classic novel, comes to Portland's Keller Auditorium from October 18 through 23.

Play On Shakespeare Announces Upcoming Seasons For Fall, Winter, and SpringPlay On Shakespeare Announces Upcoming Seasons For Fall, Winter, and Spring
September 28, 2022

Play On Shakespeare, the not-for-profit organization dedicated to exploring the world of Shakespeare in performance through translation and adaptation, today announces their Fall 2022, Winter 2023 & Spring 2023 Seasons.

THE LAST WHITE MAN Comes to The Vault TheatreTHE LAST WHITE MAN Comes to The Vault Theatre
September 28, 2022

Bag&Baggage Productions, Hillsboro’s resident professional theatre company, continues their work of interrogating Sheakespeare’s lasting impact with their upcoming production of The Last White Man by Bill Cain, Directed by B&B Founding Artistic Director Scott Palmer in his first return to The Vault stage since 2019.

The Young Professionals Company at OCT Presents PESTILENCE: WOW!The Young Professionals Company at OCT Presents PESTILENCE: WOW!
September 23, 2022

​​​​​​​The Young Professionals Company at Oregon Children's Theatre (OCT) will present Pestilence:Wow!, a dark comedy set in France in 1348 where a third of the population has been wiped out by the Bubonic Plague. Part reality television, part psychedelic fever dream, this is a play about humans and the way we deal with real, actual tragedy: totally inadequately.