It’s hard to work in a job you hate, but even harder to chase down an elusive dream. That’s the impression I got at the start of Tick, Tick… Boom!, the new musical staged by 9Works Theatrical. An eerie ticking-bomb sound plays in the background as the protagonist Jon (Jef Flores) talks about the pressure of giving up his dreams of becoming a composer for musical theater. He compares himself to his successful roommate Michael (Ariel Reonal), who has a cushy job in Manhattan. Jon’s girlfriend Susan (Tanya Manalang) is a dance teacher who pleads with him to trade in their New York life for a quieter one in the suburbs. Of course, this would derail his dreams of making it on Broadway — and so begins his journey towards realizing the true purpose of his musical talents.
And while that is the scary part of this show — the realization that your quarter-life issues are relatable even to someone back in 1990 — it’s also a nice peek into the mind of a theater icon. Tick, Tick… Boom!happens to be an autobiography of sorts. Apart from being a multi-awarded musical, it was written and created by Jonathan Larson — the same guy who created Rent. After Larson’s death in 1996, the show was brought Off-Broadway and developed into a three-character show (it was originally intended to be a rock monologue.)