Tick, Tick… Boom! Starring Hugh Sheridan is a moving, funny, inspiring story appealing to musical theatre lovers!

Tick, Tick… Boom! Theatre Show Review 

By Jake Freeman

Tick, Tick… Boom! is now showing for a limited time in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney. ‘Tick, Tick… Boom’ is a musical drama loosely based on the life of playwright and composer Jonathan Larson, best known for creating Rent the Musical. The story follows Larson’s journey as he struggles to make it as a composer and find success in musical theatre.

Jonathan Larson was born in 1960 to a Jewish family in New York City. From a young age, Larson fell in love with music and theatre and studied acting. After a short acting stint, he changed his focus from acting to compositions and began composing music for students and small theatre productions. 

For nearly six years he worked on creating Superbia, a sci-fi musical inspired by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Unable to go beyond the workshop stage, Larson then created his own one-man show, the semi-autobiographical musical Tick, Tick… Boom! 

In 1996, Larson wrote and composed the Broadway musical Rent, innovative for its time and its use of rock and roll music and its representation of the LGBTQ community. It was praised by both theatregoers and critics alike, winning countless awards. Sadly, Larson never lived to see the success it had, dying the day of the first Off-Broadway preview performance, at age 35.

After he died in 1996, Tick, Tick… Boom! was revised and revamped by playwright David Auburn. Since 2001 it has been performed around the world. In 2021, an acclaimed film adaptation of Tick, Tick… BOOM was directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton the Musical, with Andrew Garfield starring as Larson. 

The story of Tick, Tick… Boom takes audiences on a journey back to 1990 in New York City, where Jon (played by Hugh Sheridan) a promising young composer, is experiencing a quarter-life crisis. Jon is just weeks away from turning 30, and his girlfriend Susan (played by Elenoa Rokobaro) wants to leave the city as he is struggling to make his mark in the musical theatre world and is waiting tables to make a living. 

His best friend Michael (Finn Alexander) has made it big in the corporate world, wearing expensive clothes and driving a BMW. Jon faces a crossroads in the life of holding onto his dreams or giving up.

Tick, Tick… Boom has a small cast, with only five actors, all of whom play multiple characters. The cast consisting of 5 bring an extra layer of intimacy and closeness to the production. The stage set up is also small consisting of two tall brick walls, representing a typical New York apartment, complete with the sounds of taxis honking!

The entire cast was flawless in their acting and singing performance. Hugh Sheridan led the way as both Jon and the narrator, who has a lot of charisma and stage presence throughout the 90-minute show. He is entertaining and funny, even ad-libbing when he slipped on some of his lines early on in the show. Through his narration and singing, “30/90″, the show’s opening number, Hugh was able to tell a story that many people in their late 20s and early 30s will resonate with.

Elenoa Rokobaro as Jon’s girlfriend Susan, was also outstanding. Skillfully she has mastered the multiple characters channelling the different accents that provided great comic relief with her amazing singing talent, in “Come to Your Senses” which received the biggest applause of the night.

Like Elenoa, Finn Alexander as Jon’s friend Michael, was a joy to watch, especially the changing of different roles through a quick accent or costume change. His best singing moment was in “Real Life.”

Tick, Tick… Boom is a moving, funny, inspiring story appealing to musical theatre lovers and those who relate to the struggles of making it in the industry.

The Australian stage production of Tick, Tick… Boom is produced by Storeyboard Entertainment and directed by Tyran Parke. The Australian cast is led by Hugh Sheridan as Jonathan Larson, Elenoa Rokobaro as Susan, Finn Alexander as Michael and Sheridan Adams and Hamish Johnston in supporting roles. Tick, Tick… Boom is now playing for a limited season across the country.

The show is only one act and runs for 90 minutes with no intermission. The performance contains adult themes and some coarse language and is suitable for mature audiences. This production also contains some strobe lighting.