Is Tick, Tick…Boom Based On A True Story?

    Tick, Tick…Boom is an autobiographical musical based on a musical of the same name, composed by Jonathan Larson. Scheduled to be released on Netflix in November, 2021, the film stars Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, Joshua Henry, Judith Light, and Vanessa Hudgens.

    It is also going to be the directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film follows the story of the legendary theatre composer, who is faced with a mid-life crisis as he contemplates his career choice as his 30th birthday approaches.

    The musical was first ever performed as a solo act in 1990 in New York City. Jonathan Larson is best known for the creation of Rent. He, unfortunately, did not live long enough to see its success on Broadway. Larson worked seven years to bring Rent on the stage. Playwright Billy Aronson had approached him with the idea of creating a modern musical based on Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme.

    True Story

    John Larson was born on 4th February, 1960. In White Plains, New York. He grew up not only under the influence of theatres, but also of rock bands such as The Beatles, and The Who. A graduate of Adelphi University, he pursued a career in the performing arts. To fulfill his dreams, he also waited tables at Manhattan’s Moondance Diner. 

    In the musical, Jon is Jonathan Larson. The story begins when Larson starts to hear a ticking sound before his 30th birthday.  The musical provides a glimpse into the personal life of the man, and his relationship with his girlfriend, Susan, who is a dance teacher.


    She longs for a more stable life. Larson’s childhood friend, Micheal, leaves the starving life of an artist to become a research executive. The musical ends with Susan leaving him with a thousand-page long letter and him getting a call from Stephen Sondheim, who goes on to become his mentor in real life.

    As he starts hearing the ticking noise, he questions everything – his career most importantly. He wonders if he made the right choice or if he is just wasting his time.


    As he grows older and given his lack of success as a composer, Jon feels that he might not be suited for the path he has chosen. In an interview with Theatermania, Miranda described Jon’s fear as that of growing up and of saying goodbye to his childhood.

    After Larson’s death in January, 1996, playwright David Auburn revised Tick, Tick…Boom into a three-actor piece. Over the years, the musical has been revised several times, with actors like Raul Esparaza, Neil PattrickHarris, Leslie Odom Jr, and even Miranda himself in the role of Jon.

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