Saturday June 24th 2017

“tick,tick…BOOM!”

Porchlight Music Theatre, a leader in bringing new musical works, new innovative works, re-imagining older musicals and showcasing some of Chicago’s fine young talents, has really hit the jackpot with its production of Jonathan Larson’s “tick,tick…BOOM!”, a musical auto biography of Larson’s own fear of growing old without ever hitting success in his chosen field. Everyone knows Larson for his rock musical re-telling of  “La Boheme” that we know as “Rent”, which to many is the only recognizable work. Since he passed away right before “Rent” opened on Broadway, as we know to huge success, many have thirsted for more knowledge about the man and his music- there had to be more from his past, as there was no future.

In 1991, Larson write a little rock monologue called “30/90” which was later renamed “Boho Days” and then, became “tick,tick…Boom” now on the stage at Stage 773, as  the finest production I have seen- I saw it in New York, and then a slick production at Pegasus years later. I then was able to get a very intimate view of the show at Berger Park three summers ago, but in no way did any of the previous productions hold a candle to the masterful production that Porchlight puts on its stage. “the Thrust” at Stage 773, an intimate stage area that allows us a certain closeness to the action on stage.

After Larson’s death, playwright David Auburn reworked the show from a one man musical tale of a young composer on the brink of turning 30 with no success, into the script we see on stage now- adding his best friend and his girlfriend who have moved on, making the story a little more complete and adding a more realistic look at Larson’s own life. Adam Pelty, who many of us know as a quality actor himself directs this marvelous 90 minutes of musical theater with musical direction by Diana Lawrence. Based on the performances that are given by the three actors in this production, one would have to think that they all honored what Larson stood for and his glorious works. The heart and soul of Larson himself appears in every movement, song and word by Adrian Aguilar , who keeps showing Chicago audiences how strong a performer he can be( dance, song, acting, music- he is a special performer and is as solid as they come).

As best friend, from childhood,Michael, Bear Bellinger shines, and when he take son small “other” personalities, he pulls it off without us ever asking what is he doing?. It all moves flawlessly. Jenny Guse, the wonderful, Jenny Guse gives Susan ( and Karessa) something very special and what a voice she has- great range in both characters as she fills the room with tones of perfection. Thirteen songs make up the score for this 90 minute production and while none of them have the impact that some of  the “RENT” numbers do, I truly enjoyed many of the songs. One in particular, “Sunday” which is about Jon’s part time job as a waiter in a restaurant, is in fact a homage to Stephen Soundheim’s “Sunday in The Park with George” following the style and some of the subtle notes and I am sure Sondheim loved every minute of it! In many of the songs, if you listen close you can hear a bit of “Rent”, which is often the case with composers. After all, how many notes can we really segregate from the rest without something sounding familiar?

To bring a production like this to its greatest potential ( which they have truly done at Porchlight) you need more than just the words and music and actors, or even the director/choreographer( Pelty’s dad would be very proud), or even the brilliant musical director! You need a workable set, one that does not detract for the action ( Ann Davis- great job), good sound as provided by Joseph Fosco, great lighting ( Greg Hofmann), costumes that fit the characters ( Jesus Perez , once again, brilliant). The projections are a wonderful touch to making this production reach the heights that it does ( Anna Henson and Rasean Davonte Johnson) and of course lots of props ( handled by Adrian Juarez) and musicians who shine and follow the spirit and energy of the actors, the music and Larson himself-Diana Lawrence, conductor/keyboard,Jim Barclay on drums,Mike Przygoda on guitar,Jake Saleh on bass and Nicholas Davio ( keyboard Alternative/Conductor)!

This production, which runs through June 10th is a MUST SEE production. You should find a way to alter your schedule to make sure that you are witness to the sterling work of Porchlight. The schedule is as follows:

Fridays at 7:30 p.m.,Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $38 ( open seating/General admission) and can be purchased at the box office located at 1225 W. Belmont, by phone at 773-327-5252 or online at www.porchlightmusictheatre.org

There is also a special performance on Friday, June 1st at 10 p.m. for you late nighters and as a tribute to Mr. Larson, Porchlight is please to be a part of a series of intimate concerts during the run featuring some of Chicago’s fine new talents:

Saturday, May 12th  9:45 Diana Lawrence ( musical director) in the lobby- NO CHARGE

Friday, May 18th at 9:25, The Lauren Wolf Band  $5.00 ( if you do not attend the show, you can partake of the after show for $8.00)

Saturday, May 19th, Diana and the Dishes, again in the lobby

Monday, May 28th at 8 p.m. ON THE SET, The Lincoln Squares present the music of Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler ( truly great young talents)

Saturday,June 2nd at 9:45

Jess Godwin will delight you with pop melodies  and lyrics that will stay with you forever.     

To see what the others have to say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com , got to review roundup

 

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