ReVision Theatre NJ
Directed by Bob Angelini
Musical Direction by Evan Jay Newman
Written by Jonathan Larson.
Starring Spiro Galiatsatos, Uton Evan Onyejekwe and Brittany Avey
Theatre Bar (610 Bangs Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ)
They are doing some brilliant stuff in Asbury Park lately and Tick, Tick…Boom! delivers in every way.
I couldn’t help but think that if I was watching this show in 1990, I would find the dialogue lacking, some of the songs infectious, but others pointless (why do we have a sudden musical number about Twinkies?) and would have thought it was clearly the much-too autobiographical work of a very green composer with some potential.
Tick, Tick…Boom! gains all of its meaning and depth in retrospect. As Larson’s alter-ego Jon is struggling with turning 30 and wondering if he can ever write that one great musical that will define a generation, we have to remember that Larson himself would die suddenly at 35, just as his groundbreaking RENT was premiering. When Jon ponders if his generation hasn’t been “tested” yet, we know it will not be long until the destruction of 9/11.
In my last review of a ReVision production (The Last Five Years), I likened Spiro Galiatsatos (Jon) to a younger Raul Esparza. After seeing him take on a role so closely associated with Esparza, I wholeheartedly stand by that comparison and fully believe Galiatsatos is someone to keep an eye on. I’m already looking forward to seeing him star in Company in a few years. As Jon, he is hilarious as well as heartbreaking, and his gorgeous voice effortless.
Uton Evan Onyejekwe is Jon’s best friend Michael. Onyejekwe also takes on the roles of Jon’s father and agent, and while he gets so many laughs throughout the show, it is Michael’s revelation that he is HIV-positive (a death sentence in 1990) that truly shakes Jon and the audience. Onyejekwe’s stunning vocals in “Real Life” are beautiful and haunting, and his and Galiatsatos’ spontaneous choreography is truly laugh-out loud funny. They are very believable as lifelong best friends.
The ReVision offers a perfect production of a rather imperfect show. Asbury Park is just an hour south of New York City with some serious Broadway-quality productions.