By Rod Stafford Hagwood
4:24 PM EDT, May 30, 2013
The musical “Tick, Tick … Boom!” gets an outrageously good workout by the Outre Theatre Company in Boca Raton.
The blazing talent of the cast and brisk direction by Skye Whitcomb turn what could have been a series of cliches into a smart and smooth production that moves with purpose through about 90 minutes with no intermission, hitting just about every sweet spot in the script along the way.
Written by the late Jonathan Larson (“Rent”), this show is autobiographical, and that’s where it could have all gone so wrong. Shows in this genre — particularly one that started off as … ugh … a rock monologue — frequently read as self-indulgent.
But David Auburn (“Proof”) revamped the musical, adding some roles with two other actors and streamlining the show a bit. That is the version that Outre has produced here so solidly, so heartily and with such dimension.
“Tick, Tick … Boom!” opens with Johnny (played by an intense and compact Mike Westrich with plenty of “pow” and a nice wail) lamenting his impending 30th birthday and in near meltdown mode over an upcoming workshop of the musical on which he has been working for years.
He is worried about time. Has he been wasting it? Will there be enough time to fulfill his passions? Will Broadway find time to hear a musical for the Millennial Generation?
As if that weren’t enough, Johnny is feeling some added pressure from his dancer-girlfriend, Susan (a poised and plush-voiced Sabrina Lynn Gore), who wants Johnny to give up the rat race in Manhattan and start a family with her in the suburbs.
Best buddy and former-actor-turned-executive Michael (played by Jerel Brown, who may be slightly self-conscious but sings with a smoky boom) dangles financial security in front of Johnny with a corporate job.
Both Gore and Brown pull triple duty as a host of other characters, including Johnny’s square parents, an absentee theatrical agent, a glossy marketing maven, a campy cashier and a flirtatious workshop actress. Even the band — wonderfully laid back, but quick to lean in — pitches in here and there with acting duties.
Yes, Whitcomb has the machinery of this musical humming along nicely. Along with music director Kristen Long, the show at times feels powered by fusion. But not so much that the show’s heart is upstaged.
Larson went on to answer many of the questions posed here. He died from an aneurysm the night before “Rent” went into previews on Broadway, earning a posthumous Pulitzer Prize and three Tony Awards. Clearly, he stuck to his passions, because being an artist was worth it … even if time runs out.
When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees Sundays
Where: Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center, 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton
Cost: $30 for adults; $25 for seniors and $20 for students
Contact: 954-300-2149 or OutreTheatreCompany.com.
Copyright © 2014, SouthFlorida.com