Dare to deny the passage of time
at the Mathile Theatre

(L-R) Jonathan (Bobby Mitchum) seeks help through his first mid-life crisis from his
girlfriend Susan (Danielle Ruddy), and his best friend Michael (Philip Drennen).

By Sarah Monroe

What’s the big deal about turning 30? It’s just like turning 20 but ten years later, so the transition from the number 2 to 3 should be just as easy as 1 to 2, right? RIGHT?! That transition was the inspiration for Jonathan Larson’s musical, Tick, Tick… Boom! It is the autobiographical tale of Larson’s own journey to full-on adulthood, and the fear that chasing his dream of being a professional playwright was a lost cause after years of grinding away with little measurable success. Larson eventually found his own boom of victory with his smash hit Rent, but it was short lived as Larson suddenly passed away from an undiagnosed condition within a year of the play’s rising success. Tick, Tick… Boom! is full of real life struggles and decision-making angst that I am sure festered in Larson’s mind while he was trying to find his path to fame.

The musical is produced by the Dare To Defy Production company (also referred to as D2D), one of the newer small theatre companies in the Dayton area, specializing in musicals D2D is a unique theatre company in that they try to pay all those involved in the making of their musicals a fair wage, something that smaller companies can struggle to do at times, if at all. According to Mackensie King, a four time D2D director and one of the founding members of the company, “we had a lot of (talented) people who were not able to afford to do theatre,” she explained. “We are not trying to be their only job, but we don’t want somebody to have to choose between buying gas and doing a show.” To be able to do that, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work. “We search for sponsorships, grants, and ticket sales,” Mackensie tells me. “It takes a lot of work and a lot of people’s dedication, but the payoff is great, we have put on a lot of really great stuff that I am proud of.”

Mackensie is also the director of Tick, Tick… Boom! It is set in 1990’s Soho, New York. We find the main character, Jon (Bobby Mitchum) is on the precipice of his thirtieth birthday. You meet Jon’s girlfriend, Susan (Danielle Ruddy), who has planned a celebration much to Jon’s chagrin, as he is struggling to accept the fact that he is getting older. Jon’s lifelong friend, Michael (Philip Drennan), was once a struggling actor and an ally to Jon’s ambition, but eventually gave up the hustle to become a research executive for a more comfortable living situation. Michael keeps pressuring Jon to interview for a position at his firm but Jon’s resilience to stay the course is strong, although there are doubts in the back of his mind. Susan soon asks Jon about the possibility of a life outside of New York, her own devotion to city life starting to grow stale. So here Jon is, on the edge of a new decade and not as successful as he’d like, his girlfriend is wanting a different life direction and his best friend is living a life of luxury; what path is Jon meant to take?    

Jon doubles as narrator, relating the inner dialogue that he is struggling with so that we may understand his indecision in real-time. Each actor carries multiple roles, introduced with ease by Jon’s explanation. The seating is intimate, the chairs surrounding the stage are within touching distance of the actors. The set is simple—an old couch and bar anchor each side of Jon’s apartment, a trio of barstools are multi-tasked with being a sitting place on the rooftop, benches in the diner that Jon works at and the luxurious leather seats inside of the new Bimmer that Michael has just purchased. Each item on display has a purpose, even if it is to hold a prop for the next change of scene. The costumes are simple, too—each character reflected in their clothing: Jon wears a beanie, sweater and jeans, Susan (who has the most wardrobe changes) goes from a simple black outfit, a green dress (“Green Green Dress”) to the long skirt and combat boots that beckons us to the 90’s. Michael is always seen in a business suit, primping and admiring his own elegance.

Set to a live band that plays at the back of the stage, each performer carries a strong, defined voice, easily displaying real emotions. While their solo numbers will impress you, the first time all three vocalists harmonize in “Johnny Can’t Decide,” your ears will be happy that they came. This talented group of performers does Jonathan Larson’s vision justice, with a small town view on big city dreams.    

Tick, Tick… BOOM! Final performances will be held on April 20th & 21st at the Mathile Black Box Theatre located inside of the Schuster Center. Information can be found at www.d2defy.com and tickets can be purchased at my.ticketcenterstage.com

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Sarah Monroe, a native to the Gem City, is currently writing her first novel. Reach DCP writer Sarah Monroe at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com

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