Tick, Tick…BOOM! blows audience away with quality storytelling


Jonathan Larson, played by Andrew Garfield, sings his rock monologue during a scene of Tick, Tick…BOOM! Photo courtesy of American Magazine

Tick, Tick… BOOM! released November 12, 2021, is a biopic based on the life of Jonathan Larson while in his journey of writing his first play, Superbia, which is inspired by the George Orwell book Nineteen Eighty-Four. The musical tells the story of Larson, an aspiring composer who struggles with his career. The story of a “starving artist” working to keep his relationships together, keep his bills paid, and wondering if he’s making the right decisions in his career. He is also struggling to finish writing a song for the turning point of his play. And although he finishes the play and presents it to his workshop, it never goes through production. Larson struggles to move on from the rejection of his play that he’s worked on for eight years. He feels he is running out of time; he’s 30, and he hasn’t made it big as he hoped.
Jonathan Larson tragically died at the age of 35 on January 25, 1996, from an aortic aneurysm. Larson died the day before his play Rent premiered at the New York Theater workshop. This performance blew away producers and the audience and grew to success quickly. This pop-rock musical changed the course of musical theatre and how people viewed it. He explored poverty, homophobia, and multiculturalism that he had faced in his life while living in New York. He wrote about what he knew, inspiring the next generations, composers, and artists.
As wide as his portfolio, Andrew Garfield had his worries about getting recast for this movie. He had been on Broadway before but had never been in a musical. He couldn’t even sing. But he desperately wanted to impress the movie’s director Lin Manuel Miranda. He endured intense singing and voice lessons for a year in preparation for this film. Because of Garfield’s previous years on Broadway, he can easily convey emotion without over-the-top facial expressions. “There’s my own personal work, which is about interpreting and finding the essence of the character and finding those parts in myself, finding where we meet and finding where I had to stretch a bit more,” says Garfield regarding his performance in Tick, Tick… BOOMin an interview with New York Theatre Guide. He can show how his characters feel with his body language, and he can adapt his personality with method acting and following Larson’s schedule to “become” Jonathan Larson. Garfield is truly a man who is dedicated to his craft, doing his physical research to play Jonathan Larson correctly. He talked to Larson’s family members and studied the way Larson lived. And his hard work paid off. His performance embodied a struggling artist with an outgoing and eccentric personality. He caught the attention of every scene he was in with his uncanny resemblance to the late composer’s personality, voice, and appearance.
Every detail in this movie has been planned out by the directors and Larson’s sister, one of the executive producers. And that is the true beauty of it. The directors took the time to design Larson’s apartment set to match the original. The audience can feel like they know Larson personally with explicit attention to detail. They can connect to him and his struggles and sympathize with him. This film shows how this composer tried and failed and tried again to become something big, fearing he was running out of time and hadn’t accomplished anything significant, which makes him so relatable to many people and can make the film more engaging. He has inspired many upcoming composers and playwriters, such as the movie’s director, Lin Manuel Miranda. Miranda is one of the most prolific playwriters in the 21st century, with his most famous works being Hamilton and In The Heights. Without Larson’s hard work and dedication, there would be no change in the way Broadway functions today, nor the talent of Lin Manuel Miranda. He took his previous rejections as fuel to create his significant and successful works. Larson has changed many lives, and this biopic honors him fully. With all things considered, this movie deserves a 5/5.