Please…please I am begging you…no more musicals…no more. The Greatest Showman, The Prom, Dear Evan Hansen, CATS… I don’t think I can take anymore. Are all these musicals punishment for liking La La Land? I take it back! I hate La La Land! I will do anything—ANYTHING—to be spared more musicals, but yet there are still two to go in 2021: Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and Tick, Tick…Boom!, a film adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It stars Andrew Garfield as Larson, an aspiring composer stuck in the showbiz grind in the 1990s, surrounded by Interesting And Artsy friends, who will eventually become the inspiration for Larson’s landmark work, Rent. Larson never got to see his dream fulfilled, though, as he tragically passed away the very day Rent began Off-Broadway previews.
I understand the appeal of the story, of the Great Artist cut down in his prime, on the cusp of finally obtaining his most impossible dream, who left behind not only a definitive work, but also a more intimate work detailing his own creative struggle, which touches on everything from mental health to the AIDS epidemic. Tick, Tick…Boom! is a kind of diary, a companion piece to Rent reworked and presented as a show unto itself after Larson’s death in 1996. I get it, I do, just please don’t make me be the asshole who sh-ts on Jonathan Larson’s life story because it’s presented in song and dance format, because I am that bitch, and if I have to sit through this movie, that bitch I will be. Because I watch this trailer and I hate all of it. The bit where he sees music notes on the bottom of the pool? Not for me. Or the part where he raises his hands and knocks down the diner wall? I shudder. Or how all the diegetic sound is syncopated like a rendition of Stomp? My soul seeps into the floor. This is clearly Not For Me. Please, please, just let me and Tick, Tick…Boom! go our separate ways. (Lainey: we have not yet heard from Duana, a musical defender and musical theatre geek, if she’ll be submitting a rebuttal piece.)