Larson, the late American composer and lyricist best known for Rent, first conceived of Tick, Tick ... Boom!, an autobiographical piece about a frustrated artist approaching 30, in 1990 as a musical monologue, in which one man would perform the part of multiple characters. It was adapted for three actors by Proof playwright David Auburn and premiered in New York in 2001, six years after Larson’s death.
The musical had its London premiere in a 2005 Menier Chocolate Factory production starring Neil Patrick Harris and was briefly seen in the West End last year in a Notes from New York season at the Duchess Theatre. For the new Union production, Leanne Jones will be joined in the cast by Ashley Campbell and newcomer Adam Rhys-Davies.
On 25 January 1996, the night of Rent’s first Off-Broadway preview, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm. He was 35 years old. Rent went on to win the Pulitzer Prise for Drama and mount productions in the West End and around the world.
Following Tick, Tick ... Boom!, the Union will turn its attention to another American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim. As part of the ongoing celebrations of Sondheim’s 80th birthday this year, the Union will revive Sondheim’s 1990 musical Assassins for a run scheduled from 30 June to 24 July 2010.
The revue, chronicling the history of presidential assassination in the US, has a book by John Weidman, with whom Sondheim also wrote Pacific Overtures. It had its London premiere in 1992 at the Donmar Warehouse.
Amongst the other major upcoming events being staged in London as part of Sondheim’s birthday celebrations are: this weekend’s The Night of 1000 Voices concert at the Royal Albert Hall, a dedicated BBC Prom, and revivals of Passion at the Donmar and Into the Woods at the Open Air Theatre.