‘tick…tick…BOOM’ An Unforgettable Experience At Cape Playhouse

by Jennifer Sexton-Riley

There was magic in the air on the opening night of the 2024 summer season at Cape Playhouse.

As the historic theater’s new artistic director — award-winning producer, director, and writer Eric Rosen — spoke to the crowd gathered for Jonathan Larson’s award-winning semi-autobiographical musical “tick…tick…BOOM,” it was easy to imagine the spirit of Larson was present. Rosen pointed out that Larson’s family summered in Dennis, and in fact the future composer, lyricist and playwright saw his very first play at the age of 3 on none other than the Cape Playhouse stage.

“Larson fell in love with theater in this room,” Rosen said.

Larson, known for the enormous success of his Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning (along with many other awards) smash musical “Rent,” died tragically young. He never got to witness the full flower of his ambition, skill, creativity and achievement. “tick…tick…BOOM,” created as a solo work six years before “Rent,” was reworked as a three-actor piece following Larson’s death. It tells the story of his early years as a hardworking emerging composer, trying to decide whether he is on the cusp of greatness or overdue to give up his dreams, all while waiting tables, paying the bills and navigating relationships with his girlfriend and best friend.

“tick…tick…BOOM” begins with composer Jon (Andy Mientus), about to turn 30 in the New York City of 1990. The title refers to the unnerving ticking sound Jon feels inside his head as he grapples with the decisions facing him as his birthday approaches. Should he continue to strive for success as a composer? Is his new musical, “SUPERBIA,” destined for greatness? Should he follow in the footsteps of his best friend, Michael (Larry Owens), who gave up his dreams of stage and spotlight in favor of a lucrative career in marketing, along with the accompanying upscale apartment and BMW? Or should he go along with the plan of his dancer girlfriend Susan (Krystina Alabado), who wants to leave the city behind, move to Cape Cod and enjoy a quieter life by the sea? Jon tries to hash the problem out, singing “Johnny Can’t Decide,” but remains in a quandary. The production delights with many moments of laughter, creative staging and inspired choreography by Paul McGill, and a fantastic band under Andy Roninson’s musical direction.

All three of the performers in Cape Playhouse’s “tick…tick…BOOM” are phenomenally talented and skilled, and the abilities behind their vast lists of accomplishments on Broadway, in television and in film were on full display on opening night. Director Rosen has brought out the best in all three, and the audience was captivated from the first note to the last in this 90-minute, intermission-free production. Some of the most memorable moments for each were Owens along with the beautiful combination of all three voices in “Real Life,” the gorgeous “Come to your Senses” featuring Alabado, and Mientus’ performance of “Why,” which brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience.

“tick…tick…BOOM” is a snapshot of life for a young artist in 1990s New York who feels his mortality breathing down his neck even as he glimpses success just over the horizon. See it for the passionate and heartfelt performances, for the stunning voices of Mientus, Owens and Alabado, for the production values for which Cape Playhouse has always been known and loved in this, its 98th season. But above all, see it.



At the Cape Playhouse, Route 6A, Dennis

Through June 15

Information and reservations: 508-385-3911, www.capeplayhouse.com