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128 NW Eleventh Ave, Portland, OR 97209 · 503-445-3700 · www.pcs.org
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tick, tick … BOOM!

If you love Rent, you’ll love this raw, hilarious, genre-cracking rock musical.

August 20 – September 18, 2022
On the U.S. Bank Main Stage

If you love Rent, you’ll love this raw, hilarious, genre-cracking rock musical.

Before he electrified the world with Rent, Jonathan Larson was a young man struggling to make his mark in the theater. While he waits tables and seeks his big break, the pressure to give it all up grows as Jon approaches his 30th birthday. Will he sell out to keep the lights on? Will he lose the love of his life? Will he finally write the soaring song that can change everything? And if he does, will anyone be there to see it? Set in 1990 and scored by the music that redefined a genre, tick, tick … BOOM! cracks open the ticking-time-bomb world of creating theater to celebrate the power of finding your voice and holding on to a dream.

“Larson’s songs thrum with the intense feeling, larky humor, and musical vitality that are the hallmark of enduring theater. Heart-grabbing.” –The New York Times

Three people in cool 90s clothing dancing and singing in front of a wall that reads ART IS WORK.

L-R: Lauren Steele as Susan, Jesse Weil as Jon, Tyler Andrew Jones as Michael in tick, tick ... BOOM!; photo by Shawnte Sims.

More Photos

tick, tick … BOOM!

  • Book, Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Larson
  • Directed by Marissa Wolf

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.

Preview image for Jonathan Larson: Life & Work

Jonathan Larson: Life & Work

Learn about Jonathan Larson's childhood, education, and career path. 

Black and white photos of Stephen Sondheim and Jonathan Larson on a black and yellow abstract background.

Behind the Curtain: Larson & Sondheim

When theater's cherished composer Stephen Sondheim met Jonathan Larson, he took the young tick, tick ... BOOM! creator under his wing. PCS Literary Manager Kamilah Bush explores their relationship and Sondheim's candid thoughts from a New York Times interview written just months after Larson's death.

A lit, red wax candle, long and slender, that has been twisted into the shape of a red AIDS Awareness ribbon.

AIDS, Arts, & Activism

Learn about the history of the AIDS epidemic, including the cultural responses that exist to this day.  

Preview image for Gallery Exhibit: *FIGURE FOUR* by Valentino Oscar Quijano-Moeckel

Gallery Exhibit: FIGURE FOUR by Valentino Oscar Quijano-Moeckel

July 22 – September 30  •  FREE

FIGURE FOUR is an art exhibit by Portland-based visual artist Valentino Oscar Quijano-Moeckel. It features works on paper and canvas that tackle an intriguing and complicated sect of American pop culture — pro wrestling.

A group of 14 people gathered closely together, wearing masks.
Members of the cast and crew of tick, tick ... BOOM! Photo by Tamera Lyn.

tick, tick … BOOM!

Book, Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Tyler Andrew Jones*

Michael

Lauren Steele*

Susan

Jesse Weil*

Jon

Alec Cameron Lugo

Understudy, Jon & Michael

Netty McKenzie

Understudy, Susan

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Pierre Carbuccia Abbott

Bass

David Lerman

Keys

Yuya Matsuda

Drums

Matt Rowning

Guitar (Acoustic & Electric)

Musicians performing are represented by the American Federation of Musicians, Local 99, AFL-CIO.

Marissa Wolf

Director

David Auburn

Script Consultant

Stephen Oremus

Vocal Arrangements & Orchestrations

Muffie Delgado Connelly

Choreographer

Ash

Music Director

dots

Scenic Designer

Lucy Wells

Costume Designer

Masha Tsimring

Lighting Designer

Sammi Kelly

Sound Designer

David Lerman

Conductor

David Saffert & David Lerman

Rehearsal Accompanists

Kamilah Bush

Dramaturg

Janine Vanderhoff*

 Stage Manager

Dana Petersen*

Assistant Stage Manager

Tyler Andrew Jones*

Dance Captain

Chip Miller & RaChelle Schmidt

Casting

Andrea Zee

New York Casting Director

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.


Assistant Director
Delphon Curtis Jr.

Assistant Costume Designer 
Natalie Scott

Costume Maintenance
Heather Taylor (She/Her)
 
Wardrobe Swing
Vanessa Elsner (She/Her)
 
Hair Consultant
Jessica Carr Miller
 
Deck Crew
Jenna Cady (They/Them) 

Electricians

Roy Joshua Antonio (He/Him) 

Sophina Flores (She/Her)

Abby Jacquin (She/They)

Allison Knight-Blane 

Dug Martell (He/Him) 

Corey McCarey 

Esther McFaden (She/Her) 

Myke Rodriguez (They/Them) 

Laurel Jane Vonderau

System Engineer/Programmer
Evan Duckworth 
 
A1
Meg Slaughter
 
A2
Kyle Colgan 

(He/Him)

Tyler is a multidisciplinary theater artist, writer, and teacher. PCS credits: Hedwig/Yitzhak u/s in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. As a performer, Tyler has also worked on stage at Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland Playhouse, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, in New York at Feinstein's/54 Below, The Cell Theater, New World Stages, and in Egypt at the Cairo Opera House and the Alexandria Opera House as part of the CIFCET Festival. As a playwright, his most notable works include The Marks You Leave, which was produced in part by Ronnie Lacroute and the WillaKenzie Estate at the 20th Annual International New York Fringe Festival and has since received an Off-Broadway reading at The Cell Theatre, as well as his newest piece, Even Faster Than a Blink, which recently received its first public reading as a part of the 2022 JAW New Play Festival here at PCS. A huge thank you to the tick, tick … BOOM! team; Marissa, Ash, DJ, and this beautiful company! Tyler is a proud member of AEA and The Dramatist Guild of America. IG: @t.andrew.jones

(She/Her)

Lauren is a multidisciplinary artist from Portland, Oregon. She graduated with a degree in theater from Southern Methodist University in 2019, with awards for excellence in performance and playwriting. Since then, you may have seen her in Bella: An American Tall Tale at Portland Playhouse, or in the first two installments of the Queen’s Girl in Africa trilogy at Clackamas Repertory Theatre, for which she won a Drammy for Best Solo Performance. Lauren recently released two new singles, titled “Nighttime Friends” and “Give Yourself Grace,” and began working on a full-length album with the local label People Music. You may have recently seen her performing under her musical stage name, Lo Steele, at the Waterfront Blues Festival and the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival. Lauren is thrilled to be closing out the summer with her first production with PCS. Check her out on social media to keep up with her music and upcoming performances. @losteele

(He/Him)

Jesse is thankful to be making his Portland Center Stage debut in this extraordinary play. Recent credits include the 1st National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof (Motel Kamzoil), The Other Side of Paradise at Ars Nova (F. Scott Fitzgerald), Hair at Pentangle Arts (Claude), and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon (Josiah). Outside of his performance experience, Jesse is a passionate writer and teacher. He’s forever grateful for his exceptional family, his friends, and his two geriatric cats, as well as the many inspiring artists that this piece connects him to — especially his new tick, tick … BOOM! family and Jonathan Larson, who imbues this story with so much wisdom and humanity. Say hi! @jesseaweil jesseweil.com 

Alec Cameron Lugo, Understudy, Jon & Michael
(He/They)

Alec is a mixed-race Latine performer and multi-hyphenate artist making his PCS acting debut in tick, tick … BOOM! — 10 years after seeing his first production here! A 2016 graduate of Pacific University, local credits include productions with Oregon Children’s Theatre, Northwest Children’s Theatre, Broadway Rose Theatre Company, Anonymous Theatre, and Fuse Theatre Ensemble, among others. Radio and television credits include work with OPB, All Classical Portland, and IFC’s Emmy-nominated Documentary Now! episode “Original Cast Recording: Co-op.” Alec also operates as the photo and video designer for Portland Center Stage, having assumed that position at the start of the 2021-2022 season. His design and video work has been featured locally and nationally. As always, thank you to Victor and Mary. IG: @gameboy_of_color

Netty McKenzie, Understy, Susan
(She/Her)

Netty is elated to be making her Portland Center Stage debut with this show! She is a singer/actor born and raised right here in Portland, Oregon. Netty was last seen in Last Stop on Market Street (Oregon Children’s Theatre), Crowns (Portland Playhouse), and Black Nativity (PassinArt Theatre Company). She is a graduate of Portland State University, where she received a B.S. in theater arts. When she is not performing, she has her hands full raising her joyful one-year-old son, Kahari! Netty would like to thank her friends and family for their support in her endeavors and the PCS creative team for choosing her to go on this journey. 
IG: @nettymckenzie13

David Lerman, Conductor, Keys & Rehearsal Accompanist

Dave is a local pianist.Outside of theater, he also helps run an organization providing support to individuals dealing with alcohol and opioid addiction.

(He/Him)

Pierre is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and producer from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Raised on bolero, merengue, bachata, Latin pop, and reggaetón, he delved into genres including rock, ambient, R&B, and jazz. Since 2015, Pierre creates his sonic world as juracán, whose full-length Niño and Jarineo tell guitar-driven stories full of dreamy ambiance. juracán released three singles in the past year and, later this year, will release an EP featuring a pop-centric, vocal-focused blend of multiple genres. Pierre's most recent collaboration, Caribe Norwé, will release three singles in 2022. tick, tick … BOOM! marks Pierre’s second experience in musical theater, and he is thrilled to work and perform with the amazing PCS team. Feel free to connect with him on Instagram! @juracan.studio

Yuya is an internationally touring drummer and percussionist. He has appeared on stages all across North America and in Asia, playing for local bands, touring bands, and musical theater productions, and he has worked with major recording labels. He is best known for his time with the Asian American band The Slants and has appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Good Morning America, The Today Show, among various other news outlets, and even in the U.S. Supreme Court. tick, tick … BOOM! is Yuya's debut at PCS. When he's not drumming, you can find Yuya with his beloved wife Emily and their six kids.

Matt Rowning, Guitar (Acoustic & Electric)
(He/They)

Matt is a musician, actor, sound designer, and healthcare worker who is proud to be making their Portland Center Stage debut! Matt works in a local ER by day and plays rockstar at night. Thank you to Melory, without whom this door would never have been opened. Selected credits: guitarist for Heathers: The Musical (Linfield University), Un Pajarito Canta (Portland Revels), Jesus Christ Superstar (Post5 Theater Company), and Footloose (New Century Players); sound design for The God Cluster (Fuse Theater Ensemble) and Abundancia (Matchbox Theater Company). IG: @chaereb

Jonathan Larson, Book, Music & Lyrics

Jonathan received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Rent. He also won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical and the 1994 Richard Rodgers Award for Rent and twice received The Gilman & Gonzales-Falla Theatre Foundation's Commendation Award. In 1989, he was granted the Stephen Sondheim Award from the American Music Theatre Festival, where he contributed to the musical Sitting on the Edge of the Future. In 1988, he won the Richard Rodgers Development Grant for his rock musical Superbia, which was staged at Playwrights Horizon. He composed the score for the musical J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation, which was presented by En Garde Arts in 1995. Mr. Larson performed his rock monologue tick, tick ... BOOM! at Second Stage Theatre, The Village Gate, and New York Theatre Workshop. In addition to scoring and songwriting for Sesame Street, he created music for a number of children's book cassettes, including Steven Spielberg's An American Tail and Land Before Time. Other film scores include work for Rolling Stone’s magazine publisher Jann Wenner. He conceived, directed, and wrote four original songs for "Away We Go!," a musical video for children. Rent, his rock opera based on La Bohème, had its world premiere on February 13, 1996, at New York Theatre Workshop. Jonathan died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996, 10 days before his 36th birthday. His music (including songs cut from his shows) is archived in the Library of Congress.

Marissa Wolf, Director
(She/Her)

Marissa is in her fifth year as artistic director of Portland Center Stage. Select directing credits include Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens (Portland Center Stage); Fire in Dreamland by Rinne Groff (The Public Theater; world premiere at KCRep); Man in Love by Christina Anderson (KCRep); 77% by Rinne Groff (San Francisco Playhouse); Precious Little by Madeleine George (Shotgun Players); The Lily’s Revenge (Act II) by Taylor Mac (Magic Theatre); and The Late Wedding by Christopher Chen (Crowded Fire Theater). Marissa was nominated for Best Director by BroadwayWorld San Francisco and the Bay Area Critics Circle, and she held the Bret C. Harte Directing Fellowship at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

(She/Her)

Muffie is a dance artist, performer, and movement researcher. Her performance work is part of her activist practice, and in both arenas, she is informed by her identity as a Chicago-born xicana mother. Her work has been presented across the United States at Links Hall (Chicago), Packer Schopf Gallery (Chicago), The Art Institute of Chicago, Movement Research Festival (New York), The Gibney Dance Center (New York), and in Portland at White Bird, Performance Works Northwest, and the Newmark Theater. She has previously choreographed for Portland Center Stage in Earth Without Borders/Tierra Sin Fronteras. She is the recipient of awards from the Ford Foundation (New York), Illinois Arts Council’s Community Arts Assistance Program, and the Regional Arts and Culture Council (Portland). She is a yearly guest teacher at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Muffie is one of five artistic leaders of the dance center FLOCK. IG: @muffiedelgadoconnelly

Ash, Music Director
(They/She)

Ash is an active composer, arranger, songwriter, and music director for choir and theater. Their theatrical credits include productions with Portland Actors Ensemble (for which they won the Outdoor Shakespeare Festival Award in 2012 for Best Sound Design of Twelfth Night), Milagro (for which they won a Drammy Award in 2015 for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music for ¡O Romeo!), Corrib Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, and most recently, Portland Center Stage (Macbeth and Hedwig and the Angry Inch). Ash serves as artistic director to Transpose PDX, which is a non-profit choral arts organization serving the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community. musicbyash.com 

dots , Scenic Designer

dots is a design collective based in New York City, specializing in designing environments for narratives, experiences, and performances. Hailing from Colombia, South Africa, and Japan, we are Santiago Orjuela-Laverde, Andrew Moerdyk, and Kimie Nishikawa. We approach every project with a diversity of thought and burning curiosity, and above all, we believe in the value of the whole being greater than the sum of its individual parts. Recent credits: La Traviata (VA, Wolf Trap Opera); While You Were Partying (NYC, Soho Rep); The Green Veil, a TV mini-series starring John Leguizamo; Nations Lending, a national commercial starring Dennis Rodman. designbydots.com, eseoele.com, andrewmoerdyk.com, kimienishikawa-design.com.

Lucy Wells, Costume Designer
(She/Her)

Lucy is a costume designer and the costume shop supervisor at Portland Center Stage. She is originally from Mississippi and holds a B.F.A. from the University of Southern Mississippi. Lucy spent the early years of her career working freelance as a costume designer, costume stitcher, and wardrobe supervisor at such theaters as Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Berkshire Theatre Group in Massachusetts, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, The Rev Theatre in upstate New York, and Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts. This is Lucy's second season as a shop manager at PCS and her first costume design for PCS. She is always thankful and excited for the collaborative process of bringing a show to life. Lucy is a member of IATSE local 154.

Masha Tsimring, Lighting Designer
(She/Her)

Masha is an NYC-based designer for live performance. Recently: Der Freischütz  (Wolf Trap Opera); Straight White Men (Westport); Private (Mosaic); Cunning Little Vixen and Salome (Bard); Puppet Lab (St. Ann’s Warehouse); To the Yellow House (La Jolla Playhouse). Internationally, her work has taken her to Russia, Chile, China, Germany, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Bolivia, and one very big boat. Homes for New York projects include Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, The Kitchen, Atlantic Theatre Co., Clubbed Thumb, PlayCo, Invisible Dog, Page73, and Bushwick Starr. In addition to design, Masha’s interests include progress towards pay equity and a more ethical model of making in the American theater. Masha received her M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama. She is a proud member of USA829. mashald.com

Sammi Kelly, Sound Designer
(She/Her)

Sammi is making her sound designing debut in Portland for tick, tick … BOOM! Sammi is going on her second full season at PCS as the associate sound and video supervisor. She was last seen at PCS as the A1 for Rent. Sammi has a B.A. in theater with music business and business administration focuses at the State University of New York at Potsdam. Her design credits include: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Urinetown, The Secret Garden, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Wiley and the Hairy Man, Venus by Suzan Lori-Parks, Much Ado About Nothing, Blood Wedding, and many more. Sammi would like to thank her family for their endless support of her love of theater!

David Saffert, Rehearsal Accompanist

David has played piano locally for the Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Resonance Ensemble, Anonymous Theatre, and has been featured on All Classical Portland’s radio show “Thursdays at Three.” Past piano credits also involve work in Minnesota with the Guthrie Theater and in Michigan at the Interlochen Arts Camp. As an actor, David has been nominated for a PAMTA and Broadway World’s “Performer of the Decade” for his performance in Murder for Two at Broadway Rose Theatre.

Kamilah Bush, Dramaturg
(She/Her)

Kamilah is a playwright, dramaturg, and educator originally from North Carolina. She holds a B.F.A. in theater education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was an NC teaching fellow. Kamilah has spent several seasons at celebrated regional theaters across the country, including Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, Asolo Repertory Theater in Sarasota, FL, and Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. Her play Nick & The Prizefighter was a semifinalist in the 2021 Bay Area Playwright’s Festival and won the 2021 Urbanite Theater Modern Works Festival.

Janine Vanderhoff, Stage Manager
(She/Her)

Janine is thrilled to return for her seventh season at Portland Center Stage. She has been a stage manager and production manager in theater for more than 20 years on Broadway, Off-Broadway, regionally, and on tour. She's had many favorite productions in that time, but some of her favorites include Rent, Frida … A Self Portrait, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Macbeth, A Christmas Memory/Winter Song, Wild & Reckless (all at Portland Center Stage); Sweeney Todd (Portland Opera); The Lion King (Broadway); The Graduate (starring Morgan Fairchild), Cats, The Vagina Monologues, Jekyll & Hyde, Show Boat (all on tour); The Daily Show with Jon Stewart “Democalypse 2012 Republican National Convention.” Proud NYU graduate and AEA member.

Dana Petersen, Assistant Stage Manager
(She/Her)

Dana is so excited to be back at Portland Center Stage. Her previous credits at PCS are Rent, In the Heights, Redwood, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (production assistant), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (assistant stage manager), and The Bells That Still Can Ring (stage manager). Dana graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in theater. While at OSU, Dana was the stage manager on 7 Ways to Say I Love You, Beyond All Recognition, Execution of Justice, Michael Von Siebenburg Melts Through the Floorboards, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Dana sends all of her love to her family, both blood and found. 

Andrea Zee, New York Casting Director
(She/Her)

Much love to [Redacted Redacted] for bringing this show to life! Off-Broadway/NYC: A Delicate Balance (Transport Group, Fall 2022); Golden Shield (MTC); Where The Wild Things Are (New Victory); Neurosis (DR2); Syncing Ink (The Flea); Elf The Musical (MSG); New York Stage and Film; Dramatists Guild Foundation; ACLU/NYCLU. National Tours: Yemandja; The Sound of Music; Bullets Over Broadway; Elf The Musical; Finding Neverland. Regional: Portland Center Stage, 5th Avenue Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Arrow Rock Lyceum, Alley Theater, TUTS. Associate credits include numerous Broadway, Off-Broadway, film, television, and commercial projects. Zee-casting.com

What Critics Are Saying

"Rent creator Jonathan Larson battles his way toward broadway in tick, tick … BOOM! Portland Center Stage’s production is an unqualified triumph.” –Willamette Week

"It's a semi-autobiographical account of his effort to break into the musical theatre world, as well as an homage to Stephen Sondheim." –BroadwayWorld

"The play is a brilliant piece of work, with catchy music and dialog, satire and comedy, beautifully brought to life by the chemistry of the three actors." –Judy Nedry

"Superb ... the three cast members together are a marvel, making the most of the gorgeous harmonies that feel so characteristic of Larson’s other work and moving together with joy and alacrity." –Portland Observer

"You walk away certain of one thing above all else: there really is no day but today." –Portland Monthly

"Portland Center Stage presents tick, tick … BOOM! A portrayal of honest love and defeating fear" –PSU Vanguard

What Audiences Are Saying

"Great production to start the season! Lots to enjoy and to think about! Loved their voices."

"Stupendous!"

"Great show, wonderful cast. Clever direction."

"Powerful energy and talent!"

"Beautifully done! Excellent casting, staging, music and acting! All around A+++"

"Great vocals, music and lyrics. Loved the storytelling."

"Absolutely loved it! Would see it again. I can’t pick a favorite actor, they all had some pretty amazing moments."

National Reviews

tick, tick ... BOOM! is as powerful as ever.” –BroadwayWorld

“The origins of Rent are evident in tick, tick ... BOOM!” –Chicago Sun Times

“ONLY the most stoic will fail to be swamped with emotion.” –BroadwayWorld

“So relevant, probably more so now than ever … deeply raw and emotional.” –BroadwayWorld

“Rollicking, urgent.” –BroadwayWorld

“Full of emotional rock ballads and catchy anthems.” BroadwayWorld

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