Photo by Matthew Claybrook
In Trinity’s Attic Theater, the clock is ticking for the three-person cast of “Tick, Tick … Boom!,” a student-run musical. The piece serves as the senior capstone project of director Nico Champion and stage manager Mindy Tran.
“Tick, Tick … Boom!” was written by the composer of the famed musical “Rent,” Jonathan Larson, before he found success.
“It started off as a one-man rock monologue. It’s obviously very autobiographical, and he essentially performed the whole piece,” Champion said. “[Larson] passed, on I think the first preview of ‘Rent’ on Broadway, and pretty quickly after that someone came in and sort of took it apart a little bit and reconstructed it as a three-person piece, reconceived it out of that one-man monologue aspect, and that’s the iteration we have now.”
Champion chose the piece for its small cast and its musical nature.
“I want to do high school theatre teaching after I graduate, and musical theatre is a pretty big facet of that, at least in my experience, so I thought a musical would be good,” Champion said. “[Tick, Tick … Boom!] was one that I’d had on my radar for a few years now. I love Jonathan Larson and his work, so it’s a great show on its own and also was a very small cast, only three people, which was ideal for the scenario at hand.”
After choosing the musical, there were still many steps to take before rehearsals could begin.
“I worked with my faculty advisor, Dr. Nathan Stith, as well as the capstone major advisor Dr. Stacey Connelly to get specifics laid out and have everything ready for folks to come in. From there, it was really just finding the actors through auditioning, finding the musicians as well was a big part of it and then support with funding through SGA and the department and the Mellon Research folks as well,” Champion said.
For Tran, the challenge of “Tick, Tick … Boom!” is that the play is a musical.
“Musicals are different [to stage manage] because you have to worry about the music and the choreography that goes to the music, so you’re writing down a lot more than you would for a straight play,” Tran said. “We haven’t gone through lighting cues yet, but I can already imagine — just looking and knowing what’s ahead — the lighting cues are going to be enormous.”
First-year Ward Lehardy, an actor in the musical, spoke positively about the experience of being in a student-run production.
“I think having a student director makes it that much more relatable,” Lehardy said. “It’s interesting to see how [Champion] directs versus other directors I’ve had. He’s very professional in how he does things. He definitely knows what he’s doing in giving us directions even though he’s a student. I feel very comfortable doing what I’m doing.”
Champion returned the admiration of his cast.
“All three actors are wonderfully talented and super, super committed to the show. There’s been no difficulties with directing or scheduling. Everyone is 100% on board for the piece,” Champion said.
Lehardy appreciates the opportunity to work with a small group.
“Getting to know them is really nice and fun,” Lehardy said. “That’s the joy of a small cast, is that we end up getting pretty close.”
Tran agreed and also cited the music itself as a positive part of the experience.
“I fell in love with the music; everyone is always singing it when we leave rehearsals,” Tran said.
Champion encourages audiences to keep an open mind.
“The way it’s been directed is pretty bare bones. You don’t have a lot to go off of in terms of scenery or costuming or lighting design, so it’s a very imaginative piece. An audience coming in with an open imagination and an open empathy for the piece would be vital,” Champion said.
While the show is a comedy, Champion relates strongly to the more serious underlying themes it presents.
“It’s moving piece, especially as someone coming out of college in the next couple of months but also in general for people who want to do something meaningful. I think the story is pretty resonant,” Champion said.
Lehardy also connected with the story.
“It’s definitely a show worth seeing. I think it has a lot of really good, interesting messages about what it means to follow your passion, what it means to be an artist and coming to terms with the realities of life as you get older,” Lehardy said. “It’s relatable to me as I’m getting into college, trying to figure out what I’m going to do.”
Reflecting on the experience as a whole, Champion is grateful for the support of the department of theatre as a whole.
“The faculty has all been very gracious letting me use their equipment, and it’s been terrific to be a part of the program with this show,” Champion said. “I’d also speak to the great support of Mindy as stage manager, without whom the piece wouldn’t have come together. It’s so exciting to be able to put on a show that is really student created.”
The show opens Friday, April 5, in the Attic Theatre at 7 p.m. and runs until Sunday, April 7 at 3:30 p.m.
(Jackson Beach is a lead actor in the musical. He is also a reporter for the Trinitonian.)