Tick, Tick… BOOM! marks
Rentrobuff Productions debut

New theatre company tackles Jonathan Larson’s rock opera with success

By Byron Toben

A few years ago, Noelle Hannibal initiated, via her In The Wings Productions, the presentation of various rock operas in concert form. These culminated in a full-scale production of the grand daddy of the genre, Hair, and its later encore remounting. Now comes a new group, Rentrobuff Productions, with a three-hand version of the rock opera Tick, Tick… BOOM!, which features three leads from that production of Hair.

They are Nicolas Mancuso and Rosie Callaghan. Both are Dawson Theatre grads and both also appeared in the Segal Centre’s It Shoulda Been You. Here they are joined by Anton May, a British-born Dawson grad.

Tick, Tick... BOOM! - WestmountMag.ca

Image: courtesy of Rentrobuff Productions

This piece was a 2001 work by composer Jonathan Larson. He went on to win the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his later musical, Rent, as well as that year’s Tony award. Rent was foreshadowed somewhat by Tick, Tick… BOOM! They both have an affinity to Puccini’s classic opera, La Bohème, dealing with struggling artists trying to make a living. Larson sadly died of an aneurism a few days shy of his 30th birthday.

Mr Mancuso, the head of the new group, plays Jon, an impoverish composer seeking to break through to the big time. Ms. Callaghan portrays his girlfriend, Susan, who sticks by him, mostly.

Mr May is friend Michael who lucks into a high paying job that allows him to flee the shabby pad they have shared.

All three have the requisite big voices needed for this show. The 12 songs echo the plot with some of their titles – Johnny Can’t Decide, Therapy, Come To Your Senses.

I particularly enjoyed the duet Green, Green Dress.

Hopefully, this new group will continue to add worthwhile shows, as has Snowglobe Productions, which was also born at the Mainline two years ago.

Lots of background support for a three-hander. Director Stefania Bertrand guided all smoothly with the assistance of a musical director, an assistant musical director, a choreographer and a scenographer as well as the requisite stage manager. The four-person live band (guitar, drums, bass and piano) filled in for crowd scenes.

Hopefully, this new group will continue to add worthwhile shows, as has Snowglobe Productions, which was also born at the Mainline two years ago.

Tick, Tick… BOOM! ran at The Mainline Theatre from May 15 to 25.


Feature image: LadyDragonflyCC via StockPholio.net

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Read more articles from Byron Toben

Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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