Broadway star Neil Patrick Harris (pictured) will headline the European premiere of Tick Tick Boom, the posthumously produced autobiographical musical by Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent creator Jonathan Larson. The new production opens on 9 June 2005 (previews from 31 May) at south London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, where its limited season will continue until 3 September.

In addition to the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Rent - which is still running on Broadway, where it opened in 1996 - won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. But Larson never saw the show open. On 25 January 1996, the night of its first Off-Broadway preview, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm. He was 35 years old. Rent went on to mount productions in the West End and around the world.

Larson’s only other musical Tick Tick Boom - an autobiographical piece about a success-starved artist, fast (and frustratedly) approaching 30 - was premiered posthumously in New York in 2001. In the show, it’s the week of Jonathan’s 30th birthday. His girlfriend wants to get married and move out of the city - Tick… His best friend has bought a BMW and is moving uptown - Tick… and Jon’s waiting tables, trying to write the great American musical and feeling the pressure to choose between holding onto dreams or selling out for money - Boom!

Larson first conceived of Tick, Tick…Boom! in 1990 as a musical monologue, in which one man would perform the part of multiple characters. In Proof playwright David Auburn has adapted the piece into a three-hander.

In London, Neil Patrick Harris will play Jonathan. He has starred in recent Broadway productions of Assassins, Proof and Cabaret. His other stage credits include Romeo and Juliet, Sweeney Todd and, in Los Angeles, Rent (in which he played Mark). On screen, he is remembered by TV fans for playing the young title role in Doogie Howser MD, while his film credits include The Next Best Thing, Starship Troopers, The Proposition, Undercover Brother and Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies.

Scott Schwartz, who directed the original Off-Broadway production of Tick, Tick…Boom!, will make his London debut with the new production. The son of Broadway veteran Steven Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin), his other New York credits include The Foreigner, Golda’s Balcony and Bat Boy. The musical is presented in London by David Babani and Danielle Tarento for the Menier Chocolate Factory. Further casting is expected shortly.

- by Terri Paddock