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tick, tick … BOOM! Plot Summary

By Kamilah Bush, PCS Literary Manager

It is 1990, and with one week until his 30th birthday, Jon, a musical theater composer, describes the anxiety he feels as he ages, and the mounting pressure to write a truly successful musical. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Susan, who is a dancer, longs for a simpler life outside of New York City. His childhood best friend, Michael, quits acting and takes a market research job at a fancy marketing firm, and moves out of their SoHo apartment and into an upscale building. To help Jon, Michael gets him a job at the firm, but Jon is fired that same day.

Jon then spends the next week workshopping his newest musical, Superbia, that he’s spent five years composing. He fears that if the presentation does not go well and doesn't garner support from producers, he will have wasted his twenties on a pipe dream and, as a result, his agent, the elusive Rosa, will drop him. The night before the workshop, Susan admits that she has taken a job in Cape Cod and that she will be relocating there, whether he joins her or not. 

The day of the workshop presentation arrives and despite Jon's worries that no one will come, the audience is full and Jon’s musical theater idol, Steven Sondheim, is in attendance. Although the workshop goes well, none of the producers commit to the project. Feeling dejected, Jon goes to Michael’s office to tell him that he’s going to quit the theater. Michael then shares that he has recently received an HIV diagnosis. Jon, rattled by the news, runs through Central Park and finds himself at the Delacorte Theater, where he plays a song to honor their lifelong friendship.

Finally, on Jon’s 30th birthday, Susan throws him a party with their friends. In the middle of the party, Jon receives a phone call which he lets roll to the answering machine. On the other line, Stephen Sondheim is calling to praise Jon for his work and tells him he’s got a great future. No longer feeling the dread of growing older, Jon plays the piano as his friends all sing happy birthday.

Portland Center Stage is committed to identifying & interrupting instances of racism & all forms of oppression, through the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, & accessibility (IDEA).

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