REVIEW: Tick Tick Boom

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Last week I had a rare opportunity to take in a musical that’s not produced very often. I drove 30 miles east and didn’t stop until I reached The Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, New Jersey where a production Tick Tick Boom was mounted. I had never seen the show before and only knew one song but my partner in crime convinced me that if I loved the pacing and energy of RENT, I’d love Tick Tick Boom.

Set in 1990, this compelling story of personal discovery is the autobiographical tale of Jonathan Larson, composer / writer of RENT, on the brink of turning 30 and falling into oblivion. His girlfriend wants to get married and move out of the city, his best friend is making big bucks on Madison Avenue, yet Jon is still waiting tables and trying to write the great American musical. This youthful and endearing piece embraces the universal ideal of holding onto your dreams through life’s most difficult challenges.

So we arrived 15 minutes ahead of time, just enough time to grab a bottle of wine at the theatre’s wine bar. We took our seats in the newly constructed stadium seating and had time to oogle the scenery, referring to the stage set, not the pretty boys sitting in front of us. The stage was split level, with the lower level dominated by cogs and gears reminiscent of a clock (hello symbolism) and the upper level functioned as a roof top deck to the main characters apartment building.

The show started at 8 past 8pm (side note, the fact that a theatre courtesy window has to exist for late comers irritates me… GET TO THE DAMN THEATRE ON TIME) and within seconds Sal Pavia, playing Johnny, captivated me with his ability to portray a character that felt real. I wasn’t watching someone that was struggling with a passing of time; I was experiencing it with him. Sal didn’t carry the show on his own; his stage partners carried their weight and then some. Tara Novie and Tim Rienhart played not only primary characters, but a slew of secondary characters each more bizarre and perfectly crafted than the one before it. What I also found fascinating was the integral part the pit played in the show. Not only did they provide clean and crisp music, their bodies were borrowed as extra ensemble members multiple times throughout the production.

The 90 minute no intermission show is performed regularly now through 4/23. Tickets range from $20-$40 and you can get more info here –

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