"Everything you are about to see is true, except for the parts Jonathan made up."

The film’s backstory – BOHO DAYS

Jonathan Larson sadly died the day before he got to see his masterpiece, RENT, premiere on Broadway. He was thirty-five years old and suffered a sudden aortic aneurysm. Larson led his life constantly worried about “what do we do with the time we have left?” Eerily enough, he wrote a one-man show called BOHO DAYS about trying to make it on Broadway. In 2001, BOHO DAYS was adapted into a three-person musical called TICK, TICK… BOOM!

Cut to Lin-Manual Miranda, who saw one of the many versions of BOHO DAYS. Per Andrew Garfield, after Miranda and his girlfriend at the time saw the show, he told her not to contact him for the night as he is having an existential crisis. The play pushed Miranda to tap into his Broadway musical skills. It has now come full circle for Miranda, who has adapted his idol’s story to the big screen in this fast-paced classic. His version of TICK, TICK… BOOM! is easily one of the best films of 2021. 

Our backstory – WHY 

Ilisa (daughter/sister) performing in the ’90s.

RENT and Jonathan Larson are incredibly close to us. For those that haven’t been following our playbill, Esta and Aaron are mother/son. RENT has been ingrained in our minds and hearts since April 1996. Why? Because it was daughter/sister, Ilisa’s favorite Broadway musical. Ilisa would sing SEASONS OF LOVE at an eleven on a scale of one to ten. She memorized the musical and “vowed, right here and now” that she was “gonna spend her time this way.” 

From 1996 onward, Ilisa shared a kinship with Jonathan. Strangely enough, she knew that she wouldn’t make it on this earth very long. Ilisa died of cancer at just twenty-seven years old. She led her life not “as a waiter who” sings “as a hobby, but as a singer “who waits tables on the side.” 

RENT gave Ilisa hope for a better tomorrow. Jonathan Larson created so many magical seconds of real life for the stage. If only we could hug and thank him for the joy he gave her. Instead, we imagine a world where their spirits have already met and are singing alongside each other.

Watch, This… Movie! – COME TO YOUR SENSES 

ESTA: I LOVED TICK, TICK… BOOM! It grabbed my heart and didn’t let go until the final credits. I laughed… I cried… I smiled, and thought about life and love every moment. Lin-Manual Miranda has created a masterpiece.

The opening number, 30/90, was terrific and so true for most twenty-nine year olds. The clock begins to tick as you age, and it does get louder and louder if we do not find achievement, fulfillment, or success. Each of us has different limits before the “boom.” Time does explode in our heads as we strive to be the best versions of ourselves before the clock stops ticking. 

AARON: 100% agree! It’s not often that a musical theatre adaptation gets made with such high energy. It’s even rarer for a film to avoid depicting an artist’s success and instead focus on their failures. I have spent the last forty-eight hours asking myself the question, “What do we do with the time we have left?”

ESTA: So, so true. And the questions that the film asked! “Do we lead with fear or love?” And “how can you soar when you’re nailed to the floor?” It’s an artist’s struggle at the heart of this with that ticking time bomb about to go off. 

AARON: I loved those quotes. I also appreciated, “what is the point of money if you can’t spend it on the people you love?” As I get older, that quote becomes more true.

Mom, what song did you like the most? 

ESTA: LOUDER THAN WORDS broke my heart. So honest, authentic, and genuine in any relationship. Vanessa Hudgens and Alexandra Shipp were sheer perfection, as was Robin de Jesus portraying Michael. Oh, those eyes… that voice… the skills as an actor. He’s a total package. 

But I also wanted to be a part of the SUNDAY brunch crowd. What a tribute to Broadway and the legends it created. The talent, artistry, and creativity would be mind-boggling while eating a bagel and sipping decaffeinated tea. 

AARON: In the packed theatre I saw it in, SUNDAY got applause. It’s an impeccably complete Broadway moment. But, for me, the standout song out of this rock opera was WHY. “Hey, what a way to spend the day” is a new favorite quote. It reminds me of “act like wherever you are it’s the best place to be” from FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. Also, I always told Ilisa this quote throughout the good and bad in her life, and it made me tear up with my internal comparison. 

ESTA: 💜 I remember you and her always saying that. What did you think of the performances?

AARON: Freaking Andrew Garfield is a revelation! I should’ve known he could do this after starring in Tony Kushner’s ANGELS IN AMERICA on Broadway. But the fact he wasn’t a singer or a piano player and did all of the music is a sheer marvel. Hand this guy the Oscar now!

ESTA: YES! Andrew Garfield personified Jonathan Larson. He captured his zaniness, his expressions, and his fast-paced repartee. For most of the film, I thought I was watching Jonathan on the screen back from the grave. 

AARON: Any final thoughts?

ESTA: TICK, TICK… BOOM! is for all the “Jonathan Larson’s” out there. It was his love song to everyone who has a dream of making it on Broadway. It is his way of saying don’t give up. Have faith. Listen to your heart, your soul, and be what you were meant to be. 

AARON: Writing is about getting back up after rejection and moving on to the next. I’m so thankful that Lin-Manual moved on to the next and created TICK, TICK… BOOM! It’s a love letter to Jonathan Larson and all the artists out there.  

I can’t imagine how lonely the AIDS pandemic was, but the isolation feels like it in some ways parallels COVID. People were alone with sickness during both periods and could not talk about it due to further exclusion. Because of this, TICK, TICK… BOOM! is the colossal musical theatre hug the world needs right now. 

TICK, TICK… BOOM! is playing in limited theatres and available on Netflix.

Aaron "Dobler" Goldstein

Aaron Goldstein is a Product Manager by day, ludicrous speed content consumer by night. He’s a LA Film School Alumni and TV Academy / Producers Guild of America member. Aaron is a proud parent and dad joke enthusiast.

Esta Rosevear

Esta Rosevear has been a Theatre Arts teacher and director for 35+ years, published Children’s author of the Rebecca series, and is passionate about playing her violin, walking, gardening, and reading murder mysteries.

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