High School Performing Arts Students Celebrate ‘tick… tick… BOOM!’

It’s hard to not feel something when you listen to the work of the late composer and playwright Jonathan Larson. From his Tony Award-winning musical RENT to his futuristic rock opera Superbia to his autobiographical rock monologue-now-turned-film tick… tick… BOOM!, Larson has inspired many musicians and composers throughout the years. EGOT winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, known for his award-winning work on Broadway and off, was one of the many that were influenced by Larson’s work after seeing RENT as a performing arts teenager.

Now, Miranda is making his directorial debut celebrating the life of Larson with tick… tick… BOOM!. As Larson did for Miranda and many others, Miranda and Netflix are paying it forward by shining a spotlight on emerging teen performers and filmmakers to celebrate the arts and honor the legacy of Larson. They have partnered with five local performing arts high schools and organizations to perform the iconic musical ballad “Louder than Words” from tick… tick… BOOM!

The following schools have participated in the video:

  • Baltimore School for the Arts in Baltimore, Maryland (BSFA)
  • Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas (BTWHPVA)
  • The Chicago School for the Arts in Chicago, Illinois (ChiArts)
  • Los Angeles County High School for the Arts in Los Angeles, California (LACHSA)
  • TADA! Youth Theater in New York, New York

“I got my start in my school’s performing arts program,” said Miranda in the introduction in the video. “These programs are vital, not only to the entertainment industry, but to our culture. It’s important for us to celebrate the next generation of actors, singers and performers. So in the spirit of reaching for the stars and pursuing your dreams, we invited schools across the country to celebrate the debut of tick, tick…BOOM! on Netflix. ENJOY!”

The most beautiful thing about watching these performers is knowing the lyrics, which was written almost 30 years ago, still resonates to today and for this generation.

“This is a story about perseverance and the risks we take as artists,” said Tina Boyer Brown, Artistic Director at ChiArts. “ChiArts cultivates a safe space for students to create and explore. Our students were excited to dive into the rehearsal and filming process for this project and their hard work and commitment to excellence shows in the results.”

Directed by Miranda, tick, tick…BOOM!, an adaptation of the autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson, who revolutionized theater as the creator of RENT. The film follows Jon (Andrew Garfield), a young theater composer who’s waiting tables at a New York City diner in 1990 while writing what he hopes will be the next great American musical. Days before he’s due to showcase his work in a make-or-break performance, Jon is feeling the pressure from everywhere: from his girlfriend Susan, who dreams of an artistic life beyond New York City; from his friend Michael, who has moved on from his dream to a life of financial security; amidst an artistic community being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. With the clock ticking, Jon is at a crossroads and faces the question everyone must reckon with: What are we meant to do with the time we have?

tick… tick… BOOM! premieres today on Netflix.

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