The Off-Broadway Players will perform Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick… Boom! at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre from Nov. 18-20.
Corner Brook Regional High echoed with the sound of rock melodies and bombastic vocals as the Off-Broadway Players rehearsed their version of Johnathan Larson’s Tick, Tick… Boom! on a Saturday afternoon.
Tick, Tick… Boom! is a musical that follows Jon, a composer on the brink of his 30th birthday whose rising anxiety leads him to an impasse: Should he continue to follow his art, or should he attempt to settle down? Directed by Tina Gallant, this version of the famous musical featuring an expanded cast will play at the Arts and Culture Centre Nov. 18-20.
The Off-Broadway Players is a community-driven, non-profit theatre company that has been running since November 2002. Gallant, a high school music teacher, is a newcomer to the group but has experience in directing musicals. She has found the cast and crew to be especially friendly and easy-going.
“Nobody takes themselves too seriously,” said Gallant. “All the rehearsals have just been really positive. Yesterday, for instance, it was the end of the week. Everyone was tired, but we just laughed and had a great time.”
Gallant had directed a production of Tick, Tick… Boom! before with its typical three-person cast. Her experience with the musical made her want to attempt it once more with the Off-Broadway Players. It also happens that the musical has a feature-length film adaptation coming to Netflix on Nov. 19, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame.
Theatre for the community
Those who have seen Tick, Tick… Boom! before may notice that this version has many more people on stage than usual. While the original musical was a one-man show, many productions have a cast of three that play the main characters (Jon, Michael and Susan) as well as the side characters.
To involve the entire Off-Broadway cast, Gallant decided to tailor the musical towards a cast of eight. The reason for this decision was two-fold: a larger cast is more inclusive for the Off-Broadway Players, and it also helps flesh out roles that would typically be doubled up by a lead actor.
“There is something with all of these other characters,” Gallant said. “We tried to make all these other characters have their own storylines and kind of come alive themselves. It really does add to it.”
Peter Hiscock, who plays Jon’s laugh-inducing father, is a member of the community who performs with the Off-Broadway Players. Hiscock had worked at the Corner Brook Pulp & Paper Mill for about 30 years, managing to take some time off while working there to get an education degree. He is now a substitute teacher who has discovered his passion for acting and theatre.
“The wife even notices a difference in me when I’m in the shows,” Hiscock said. “I get that spark in me, right? This jump in me. It’s all I talk about.”
Jonathan Benoite, the board president of the Off-Broadway Players, finds that the troupe focuses upon community. He said that people will come to them asking for a small role in a production. By the end, those people have formed friendships with their fellow cast members, creating a strong sense of togetherness.
Contending with age
On the days leading to his 30th birthday, the main character Jon must decide whether he will continue on his trajectory as an artist, or give up on his dreams and take a day job. Gallant finds that Jon’s narrative in Tick, Tick… Boom! is universally relatable, with the titular ticking being associated with Jon’s own biological clock.
“The expectations were when you were 30, years ago, you would have a family and a house and two-point-five kids,” Gallant said. “In the newer generations, 30 doesn’t necessarily mean that.”
Benoite reiterated what Gallant said, finding the idea of turning 30 to be structured as a pivotal moment that people often contend with.
“We all have this point where we say, ‘at this point in my life, I want X, Y and Z,'” said Benoite. “We all give ourselves that age. For me, it was 30. So, I can relate a lot to poor Jon in that sense.”
Tickets for the Off-Broadway Player’s production of Tick, Tick… Boom! can be purchased at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture website.