Michael Detmer, Kyle Braun, & Deborah Mae Hill in tick, tick…BOOM!. Photo courtesy Acting Against Cancer.
Book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson
Directed by Jordan Price
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2017 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
From the outside, the life of an artist is not easy. It is a life overflowing with pressure, expectations, and dreams that might not pay the bills. tick, tick…BOOM! From Acting Against Cancer, delves deeply into these concerns. An autobiographical musical snapshot of Jonathan Larson, the creator of Rent, the show explores his life as his star began to rise.
Kyle Braun as Jon, who represents Larson himself, is relatable and realistic with every babbling monologue about running out of time, choosing to move on, and meeting his idols. Braun’s strongest moment comes at the pivotal, crux of the play with the performance of “Why.” Preceded by a chaotic but moving speech about his best friend Michael, played by Michael Detmer, Braun’s heartbreaking rendition of this song is powerful, filled with introspective melancholy.
Detmer and Deborah Mae Hill are strong support as the family, friends, and lovers in Jon’s life. Detmer brings a tender beauty to “Real Life” but truly shines in “No More.” Detmer and Braun are choreographed to hilarious effect as the two friends explore new fancy accoutrements of upscale apartments, while shedding the wretched studio apartments of the lower east side. As Susan, Jon’s girlfriend, Hill is graceful in her struggle to move forward, but reluctant to accept Jon’s unwillingness to change. Hill’s powerful voice soars in “Come to Your Senses,” truly a highlight of the show. Braun and Hill’s chemistry are a treat to behold in “Therapy.” With imaginative phone choreography and comedic timing briskly paced with the song’s square-dance tempo, the scene deserves every laugh it receives. (So much so, that the microphone tangled up in the phone cord at the end of the number is easily forgivable.)
The strongest moments of this show arrive when all three actors are on stage. Detmer, Braun, and Hill are vocally stunning with “Sunday,” a somewhat-tribute to Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George both in style and in staging. The cast and band blow the roof off during “Louder than Words” and “30/90” with every emotional peak, revelation, and high note.
Acting Against Cancer’s production runs deep. Perhaps the most heartbreaking reality of this show is the knowledge that Larson was a starving artist who experienced fame after his death. The cast embodies the heart and soul of Larson’s pre-midlife crisis with every break up, interview, job opportunity. and life advancement depicted on stage. This show is a love letter for anyone who is stagnate or hesitant about taking the next step in their life.
May 26-April 4, 2017
Acting Against Cancer
323 West Broadway, 3rd floor
Louisville, KY 40202
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!