Are You Ready for “Tick, Tick…Boom!” ?1

In celebration of hit musical Rent‘s 20th anniversary, 9 Works Theatrical is continuing its stellar run of musical plays with another one penned and inspired by Jonathan Larson, Tick, Tick...Boom! What’s different this time is that instead of their huge musical productions, like La Cage Aux Folles and American Idiot, 9 Works is stripping down to its rawest, most vulnerable emotions.

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Jef Flores, Tanya Manalang and Ariel Reonal demonstrate how blending is done.

Tick, Tick…Boom! tells the story of an aspiring musical composer, Jon. Like most artists, Jon finds himself at a crossroads: Should he pursue his chosen passion or give in to the comforts of a stable corporate job? Pressured from (and dreading) turning 30, his girlfriend and best friend make him consider giving up his dream of writing his musical.

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Jef Flores is the “struggling artist”, Jon.

Taking the lead role as Jon is Jef Flores who continually makes his mark in the local theater industry. After winning Best Actor (Gawad Buhay for This Is Our Youth), this guy shows no signs of stopping. I first saw Jef as Bazooka Man in Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady. And, while working as an “intern” for the productionI also got to hear him sing different songs from boyband tunes to the Pokémon jingle during sound check (best version ever!). At that point, I wanted to see more of him. And I did. In his stint as Jesus in Godspell, Jef proved that he is a literal gift from the heavens, having demonstrated his many talents and wit. The guy plays the violin, for crying out loud! So…I am one with the people rejoicing that Jef is in Tick, Tick…Boom!. *cries*

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I get a picture with them, of course!

Tanya Manalang (Susan, Jon’s girlfriend) is back home for good and we couldn’t be happier. Fresh from her two-year journey in London as Kim in Cameron Mackintosh’s critically acclaimed West End production of Miss Saigon, Tanya is ready to conquer the stage for her first 9 Works production. It’s refreshing to know that she’ll be dedicating her time and talent locally. I didn’t get to see her turn as Aileen in Rak of Aegis but I’ve been watching her on Youtube and I can’t wait to see and hear her up close. Trivia: We have something in common. We’re both Coco Martin fans. <3

Her fellow Miss Saigon alumnus Ariel Reonal is also back as Michael after his showstopping performance as Favorite Son in American Idiot. Michael is Jon’s best friend who used to be a “starving artist” but has chosen the security of having a corporate job. Aside from Michael, Ariel will also play different characters in the musical. He has had experience playing multiple roles in big productions like Saigon and Idiot, but he says that it is a whole lot different doing it in a show that has only three actors at most on stage. He’s right. Each role should be distinct from the other. Otherwise, the audience will get confused and distracted. Ensemble roles can make or break a production IMHO.

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The cast with 9 Works Theatrical artistic director Robbie Guevara and managing director Santi Santamaria.

The cast is no stranger to the kind of dilemma Jon experiences. Compromise or persevere? Ariel recalls the time his family told him to get a more stable job, as food service crew. Jef tells us that after studying music in the States, he wondered if he could make a career out of it. Good thing he decided to move to the Philippines, passed through each open door and found his place here. Tanya, on the other hand, can’t imagine a world where she is not performing.

Set in the early 1990’s, Tick, Tick…Boom! is even more relevant now especially to millennials like me who define success as “doing what you’re passionate about.” Pursuing passion often has costs. This applies to artists and non-artists alike. “Success” can be elusive and finances can become tight. We will always have that “Tick, Tick…Booms” (the onomatopoeic representation of Jon’s anxiety) in our hearts. Uncertainty is certain. But, as Jef recalls his dad say, “Sige lang nang sige.” If we are determined enough, and luck’s on our side, we might just succeed. If not, who cares? Just enjoy the journey!

Here’s a preview of the cast singing some of the songs from Tick, Tick…Boom! Enjoy!

More snaps from the Tick, Tick…Boom! Presscon

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Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick…Boom!, directed by Robbie Guevara, will have a limited run at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of the RCBC Plaza in Makati City on October 1, 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23. Tickets are available at TicketWorld.

Are you excited for Tick, Tick…Boom!? Sound off on the comment section below.

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