Show History



Tick, Tick... Boom! was originally presented as a "rock monologue" entitled Boho Days and performed by composer/lyricist, Jonathan Larson, as an autobiographical look at his dream of leaving his mark on the musical theatre landscape. Larson was working on Boho Days at about the same time that he was writing the landmark musical, Rent, although, of course, his tragic death meant that he did not live to see his dream become a reality.


Tick, Tick... Boom! was first seen September 6-9, 1990, at a workshop at Second Stage Theater under the title, Boho Days, by budding composer and lyricist, Jonathan Larson. After that mounting, Larson continued to hone the piece, and several different versions emerged, including one at the Village Gate Theater in 1991, and again at the "O Solo Mio" festivals at the New York Theater Workshop in 1992 and 1993. The title eventually became Tick, Tick... Boom! Further productions then took a back seat for the better part of the 1990s due to the untimely death of Larson, just as his other musical, Rent, debuted and skyrocketed to success.

After some retooling by friend and production partner, Victoria Leacock, and playwright, David Auburn, the Off-Broadway production of Tick, Tick... Boom! began previews at the Jane Street Theatre on May 23, 2001, officially opening on June 13, 2001. The show was directed by Scott Schwartz, and starred Raul Esparza as the aspiring composer, Jon, Amy Spanger as his girlfriend, Susan, and Jerry Dixon as best friend, Michael.

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, businesses and theatres in lower Manhattan struggled, and Tick, Tick... Boom! ended its run on January 6, 2002, after 215 performances. However, the show has had a very healthy post-New York life, including a 2003 National Tour, a 2005 UK production headlined by Neil Patrick Harris, countless regional and international mountings and the New York City Center production starring Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo as part of its Encores! series.

Cultural Influence

  • It was Tick, Tick... Boom! that brought Jonathan Larson to the attention of producer, Jeffrey Seller, and, when Seller later saw the NYTW production of Larson's Rent, he convinced his fellow producers to bring that groundbreaking musical to Broadway.
  • The success of the 2001 Off-Broadway bow led to an original cast album released on RCA Victor in September 2001.


  • Tick, Tick... Boom! was nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards, including Oustanding Musical, Outstanding Lyrics, Outstanding Music and Outstanding Book of a Musical, as well as for a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical.
  • At one point, the show was titled 30/90, in reference to Larson's reaching that momentous age in 1990.
  • Larson's idol was fellow musical theatre composer, Stephen Sondheim, and he made several winks to Sondheim throughout Tick, Tick... Boom!
  • It was David Auburn who, using Larson's numerous notes and versions of the show, turned the musical into a three-character piece, rather than the one-man show that it was originally written to be.