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Review | Tick, Tick... Boom! | St Mary's Creative Space, Chester | 27/07/2023

For many people ‘Tick, Tick, Boom’ is just one of thousands of options they scroll past on Netflix

(or to some even a mediocre Britney Spears album track). These people however are not my people, and desperately need to discover more about this absolute gem.

Dying the day before the first Off-Broadway preview performance of Rent, Jonathan Larson never had the opportunity to experience the success he had chased since the early 80’s. It is particularly fitting that a few years prior he had written and performed a semi-autobiographical rock monologue about a struggling musical theatre composer. After his death, this was lovingly restructured by David Auburn as a three-person musical. Rarely seen in the UK, it is an exciting pick for newly formed Disley Theatrical Productions to debut with.

‘St Mary’s - a Creative Space’ was packed out for the opening night of ‘Tick, Tick, Boom.’ I love having the opportunity to support local community theatre, although much like professional productions, it can be hit and miss. From the moment it began however, any notion of this being anything short of sensational were quickly put to bed.

We meet Jon (Phil Cross) in 1990, as his 30th birthday approaches. He sees his childhood friend Michael (Calum Craine) making a successful living in marketing, and his girlfriend Susan (Ceri-lyn Cissone) considering her own self-improvement a new life outside of New York. Disappointed with his own lack of achievement, he is torn between continuing to painstakingly follow his composing desires and calling it a day.

It is hard to believe it has been five years since our lead Phil Cross appeared in a show like this. With the role being originated in its UK stage debut by Neil Patrick Harris and on film by Andrew Garfield, Cross had the unenviable task of taking on the role of Jon. Cross however completely knocked it out of the park with charm, whit and one hell of a voice from opening number ‘30/90’ and throughout. He was complemented perfectly throughout by Calum Craine, who played best friend Michael. Craine in particular had the audience in the palm of his hand, with his hilarious portrayal of agent Rosa Stevens.

A stand out moment came from the pair, with their energetic performance of ‘No More.’ Used to more substandard living, Michael gives Jon a glimpse into life without leaking ceilings and holes in the floor at his new luxury apartment. The pair use the full length of the venue; running up and down the aisle, appearing from behind various curtains and throwing themselves across chairs. This not only gives a sense of the scale of Michaels vast apartment with its walk-in wardrobes and doorman, but also injects a bucket load of fun to proceedings with audience members seen grinning from ear to ear. This song, like several others, is reminiscent to the music of ‘Rent’ with Larsons unmistakable signature Rock/Pop sound.

Ceri-lyn Cissone multi-roles as Susan and a whole host of other characters. Her vocals were world class, particularly in her spinetingling performance of ‘Come to Your Senses’. In fact she reminded me of Broadway star Caissie Levy, which is one hell of a (deserved) compliment. She showed a lighter side in a duet with Cross, in the hilarious ‘Therepy’ which featured some well-choreographed ‘phone cord-ography’! It was not at all a surprise to learn they are all ex-professional performers. The roar of the crowd at the end and full standing ovation was fully deserved, and earnt by the remarkable talent on stage.

With a brilliant band led by musical director Simon Phillips, ‘Tick Tick Boom’ surpassed all expectations. The 90-minute show flew by in a heartbeat, and has well and truly put Disley Theatrical on the map as one of the leading community theatre groups in the region.

It is only on for three more performances, so get a ticket and find out how community theatre can completely outshine the professional competition. See below for booking info:

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.

Photo Credit: Brogan Craine


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