That Ticking Sound You Hear Will Soon Explode on Seoul Stages

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That Ticking Sound You Hear Will Soon Explode on Seoul Stages

If one is fun, and twice is nice, then three is the charm. At least, that is the hope of three theater companies in Seoul that will all be performing Jonathan Larson's play "tick, tick ... BOOM!" beginning Dec. 1.

While this play may not be well known, Larson's musical "Rent" is. It won four Tony Awards for its run on Broadway and has had several successful tours all over the world. A transplanted version played at the Seoul Arts Center for two popular runs.

Unfortunately, Larson never got to know how successful his own play would be: On the night of the play's final Broadway rehearsal, he died suddenly at age 35.

"tick, tick ... BOOM!" is a posthumus work of Larson's, although it was actually written before "Rent." While "Rent" was an adaptation of Puccini's "La Boheme," moved to modern New York City, "tick, tick ... BOOM!" is more of an autobiographical story.

The main character of the play, Jon, shares the playwright's name. Jon is on the verge of turning 30, but still waiting tables for picky customers at a diner in Soho. He is working on what he hopes will be a great American musical, "Superbia," with dreams of Broadway filling his head. Complicating matters, his girlfriend Susan wants to get married and leave New York. His best friend Michael gave up acting to become a high roller on Madison Avenue, with BMWs and designer suits. It all adds up to a lot of strife and pressure for the writer wannabe.

The "tick, tick..." is a kind of an auditory hallucination suffered by Jon. His hardships as an artist are symbolized through this biological clock. The "BOOM!" is the explosion of his hallucination.

All of this, of course, is set to Larson's typically exciting musical numbers.

Each theater group putting on this play hopes to bring a different interpretation. Sinchon's Sanwoolim Theater Company presents two young actors as the main characters, Lee Gun-myeong as Jon, and Kim Sun-gyeong as Susan. Under the direction of Kim Chul-ri, the play will run until the end of December.

In Insa-dong, at the Hanjeon Artspool Center, you can see Nam Gyeong-ju and Choi Cheong-won, the same actors who played the leads in "Rent." Shim Jae-chan directs this show until Dec. 9.

And in Daehangno, at Polimedia Theater, Jon and Susan are played by the real-life couple Ju Won-sung and Chun Soo-gyeong. The director Han Jin-sup will lead this version of "tick, tick ... BOOM!" until Dec. 16.

It is an usual situation, having three versions of the same play to choose from. But according to the producer Park Myeong-sung, the audience is the real winner. "It will be a new experience for the enthusiastic musical fans in Korea," he promises.

For more information, call 02-577-1987.

by Jung Jae-wal

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