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‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’: A countdown to adulthood

| Friday, January 14, 2022

Claire Reid | The Observer

Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Tick, Tick… Boom!” is a new movie musical ode to Broadway musicals and a love letter to all the songwriters and playwrights in Broadway. The production is an homage to the late Johnathan Larson — the writer who created the original “Tick, Tick… Boom!” stageplay and Tony Award-winning “Rent.” In “Tick, Tick… Boom!,” Larson (Andrew Garfield) is struggling to write a sci-fi musical he has been working on for eight years. As he struggles to finish and showcase the piece at a workshop, he also tackles his relationships with his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp) and his best friend Michael (Robin De Jesús). Larson fights for his dreams during the time of the AIDs epidemic and the lack of action of those in power. 

With beautiful feats of songwriting like “Come to Your Senses,” “30/90” and “Why,” the musical becomes heart-wrenching, meaningful and relatable. Ultimately, “Tick, Tick… Boom!” grapples with mortality. As Larson counts down to his 30th birthday, he panics about growing old without leaving his footprint on history. Garfield skillfully conveys Larson’s brilliance and urgency to make an impact despite his inability to find an audience. He impressively portrays Larson as the genius he was, but also as a regular, slightly flawed, guy who disappointed those he cares about, struggled with deadlines and sought desperately for inspiration. 

The musical also implements elements from “Rent” in certain scenes such as Larson’s electricity being turned off and using candles to light up each character. It shows how Larson took the rough and unpolished gem of “Tick, Tick… Boom!” and polished it into the legend that is “Rent.” The movie musical mirrors the original stageplay as well as “Rent” — Larson in the musical, and in real life, did not yet understand how to use his own setting for a musical.

As I watched the musical, I was struck by how much I related to Larson as I continue to grow up. It is as if time is flying by and I have less time to leave my mark on the world. It also asks us fundamental questions that are especially relevant as a kid currently in college: Do we follow our dreams to the point of personal ruin? Where do we go when the world around us seems to be falling apart? 

I found the musical to be touching and inspirational. Sometimes we do things because we love them and should not let them go even if it gets difficult. We all should pursue our happiness regardless of monetary gain or success because life is too short to live unhappily. I recommend this film for anyone who loves musicals, stories about real life, or good music.

Title: “Tick, Tick… Boom!”

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexandra Shipp, Robin De Jesús

Directors: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Genre: Movie Musical

If you like: “Rent,” “Hamilton,” “In The Heights,” “Come From Away”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

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