For his debut as a director, the playwright, composer, actor, singer and in short, a man-orchestra Lin-Manuel Miranda chose to adapt not one of his works, but that of one of his predecessors, Jonathan Larson. Pulitzer Prize winner for his musical performance Rent, Larson previously created Tick, Tick… Boom!, and it is on this lesser-known production that Miranda, who also has a Pulitzer to her credit, has set her sights. The result is attractive. As the old saying goes, we laugh and cry, but without ceasing to beat time.
Considered innovative in 1990, Tick, Tick… Boom! was at the base an autobiographical “rock monologue” where everything is true, except what was invented, says one of the characters emerging from this reminiscence-river punctuated by irresistible songs. Subsequently, the monologue in question was divided among three characters rather than one. However, and this is one of his best moves, Lin-Manuel Miranda chose to marry the two versions instead of choosing only one.
We thus constantly come back to Jonathan who, in front of the audience gathered in a small rehearsal room, recounts his setbacks and hopes as an aspiring composer and playwright. Getting ready to celebrate his thirtieth birthday, the young man considers himself already too old and feels the anguish rising. This show that he begins to repeat, and whose conception lies at the heart of the memories he shares with the audience, is his last chance to make a name for himself.
At the same time, against the backdrop of the AIDS pandemic, we dive into said memories populated by a gallery of colorful and endearing characters, from Susan, the fiancée who rightly feels discredited in her own aspirations, to Michael, the best friend, who traded his acting dreams for a career in advertising, passing by the legendary Stephen Sondheim, whose word of encouragement once justifies in Jonathan’s eyes to believe in it again and again.
In this regard, Tick, Tick… Boom !, as adapted by Miranda, is a tribute as much to Jonathan Larson as to Broadway (several outstanding figures of the “Great White Way” come to say a touching cuckoo in the number ” Sunday “). The central theme, however, remains creation and what it costs to bring into the world the vision that one carries within oneself. It happens that love passes there, friendship also, but not necessarily since, in the specific case of Jonathan, the two are intimately linked to his inspiration.
Whether it is comedy, drama or, as in this case, a bit of both, the musical genre is unique in that everything is amplified by music, precisely. Everything is “increased”: a setback becomes almost a tragedy and a little joy almost moves into ecstasy. It’s a convention. Tick, Tick… Boom! greedily embraces this dimension “emotional roller coaster”, like moreover Andrew Garfield, on edge, completely invested, and which more is in voice, in the role of Jonathan.
Here again, however, Lin-Manuel Miranda has the happy idea of playing with contrast by opposing the heightened nature of feelings and events with an intimate approach in the treatment of action and context. Here, no aerial view of photogenic New York and no more signature shot of Time Square or the Empire State Building. We live in Jonathan’s universe, which is mainly due to his seedy apartment (but charming as can be the seedy apartments in the cinema), to the rehearsal room, to the restaurant where he is a waiter and to the swimming pool. where he will clear his mind.
And if by any chance we risk ourselves in Central Park, it is to show the protagonist alone (an impossibility, except in the cinema).
With editing assistance from Myron Kerstein (In the heights, after the show by Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Andrew Weisblum (Black swan, all recent Wes Anderson), the director maintains a constant narrative dynamism, alternating past and present, and often several places located in the same space-time. Far from being chaotic, the sung story flows, impetuous but limpid. Another brilliant success for Lin-Manuel Miranda.
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