Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Elden Street Players tick, tick…Boom!

By • Aug 4th, 2008 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of Elden Street Players’ production of tick, tick…Boom [MP3 4:48 2.2MB].

tick, tick…Boom
Elden Street Players
Industrial Strength Theatre, Herndon, VA
$22/$19 Students and Seniors
Through August 23rd

Laura: This is the ShowBizRadio review of Tick, Tick, Boom! performed by Elden Street Players in Herndon Virginia. We saw the performance on Saturday evening, August 2, 2008.

Mike: Tick, Tick, Boom is a musical, with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson. It’s a pop rock musical about facing crossroads in life and holding onto dreams, telling the story of Jonathan, a promising young composer on the eve of his 30th birthday. His girlfriend wants to get married and move out of the city. His best friend is making big bucks on Madison Avenue. Jonathan is still waiting tables and trying to write the great American musical before time and life passes him by.

Laura: This was a good production. There were some comedy bits as well as some pretty serious scenes. A lot of good voices. I liked how the actors all worked together well.

Mike: This was an incredible set, a great use of space at Elden Street. The actual show itself kind of left me cold. I do not think it was all that daring or quite as exciting as I thought it could have been. I will admit to being a little disappointed by this production.

Laura: The role of Jon was played by John Loughney. He was the character who was at the crossroads of his life. He was wanting to write, not necessarily the great American musical. He was actually looking to write something that was going to make a statement and shake things up. He started out a bit reserved, but later he did warm up. He had a really good song that I enjoyed, towards the end of the show, called “Why” which when he found out some bad news about his roommate, Michael, was a really moving and powerfully well sung song.

Mike: His roommate Michael was played by Josh Doyle, and Jon’s girlfriend Susan was played by Kristen Garaffo. I think they did a fine job in their roles. Doyle and Garaffo had several costume changes as they also played other characters throughout the show. Those costume changes were very creatively done and well executed. The set was also incredible. It was a great use of space.

This was the first show I remember at Elden Street that had multiple levels. As a suggestion, when you go see this show, do not sit in the very top row. The lights that are hanging from the grid in the ceiling will block your view of some of the scenes that happen on the upper level. If you sit anywhere else you should be fine. Even sitting on the far left and right of the audience area you should be fine because there is a lot of open space for the set design. The set was designed by Kevin King.

Laura: I also liked the lighting effects for this show. I think they set a good mood and tone for the performance. The lighting designer was Al Fetske.

Mike: So what did I not like about this production? I think that all of the different pieces were there, but it felt like the overall pacing of the show was lacking energy. I think the relationship between the three performers was really well defined and they came across as really friendly. Maybe some of the spark was missing between Jon and Susan. However that fit into the show and worked really well.

For example, one song that really called for a trick to be played on the audience was a song called “Sugar” that the whole company sang. Jon talked about his addiction to sugar and that it is frowned upon in the circles that he travels in with some of the other actors. It did not have that spark. It was obvious that he was talking about some kind of sweet that Josh Doyle as the shop keeper was putting the Twinkies up on the counter in the store. It just did not quite hit that feeling of excitement that I was expecting from that song.

Laura: That’s interesting because I found it to be a funny comedy bit that was lighthearted to kind of break up the overall serious mood of the play. I enjoyed that song.

Mike: I think Laura and I are agreeing to disagree on this production. While it was a good show, it did not do a lot for me. It had a different interpretation than what I was expecting.

Laura: Tick, Tick, Boom! was an hour and forty minutes with no intermission. It is playing through Saturday, August 23rd. Friday and Saturdays at 8. Sunday the 10th at 3, Thursday the 14th at 8, Sunday the 17th at 7, and Thursday the 21st at 8 at the Industrial Strength Theatre in Herndon, Virginia.

Mike: I would definitely like to get your thoughts on this show if you go see it. Simply leave a comment here at ShowBiz Also like to invite you to join our free mailing list so you can stay informed with what is happening with theatre in the DC region.

Laura: And now, on with the show.

Photo Gallery

Photo 1 Photo 2
Photo 3 Photo 4
Photo 5 Photo 6

Photos by Richard Downer


  • Jon: John Loughney
  • Michael: Josh Doyle
  • Susan: Kristen Gaaraffo


  • Guitar: Rick Peralta (alternate Alex Blitzniak)
  • Bass: Adam Neely
  • Drums: Arthur Garrison
  • Keyboard: John-Michael E. d’Haviland (alternate Elisa Rosman)


  • Producer: Richard Klare
  • Director: Todd C. Huse
  • Music Director: John-Michael E. d’Haviland
  • Choreographer: Lorraine Magee
  • Stage Manager: Jessica Armstrong Carrington
  • Special Assistant to Stage Manager: Nicole O’Grady
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Susanna Todd
  • Technical Director: John Shea
  • Set Design: Kevin King
  • Master Carpenters: Mike Schlabach, John Shea
  • Set Construction: Bill Behan, Theresa Bender, Mike Smith, Marty Sullivan, Jill Tunick
  • Set Painting: Lorraine Magee
  • Set Dressing/Properties: Mike Smith
  • Costume Design: Judy Whelihan
  • Lighting Design: Al Fetske
  • Master Electrician: Tony Aiello
  • Lighting Crew: Melody Fetske, Reissa Burgess, Theresa Bender, Jill Tunick, Phil Archey, Betsy Eames, Mike Headley
  • Board Operator: Phillip Archey
  • Follow Spot Operator: Kevin Carrington
  • Sound Design: Stan Harris
  • Board Operator: Stan Harris, Tony Aiello
  • Hair & Makeup Design: Kat Brais
  • House Management: Dave Sinclair
  • Box Office Management: Melody Fetske
  • Publicity: Rich Klare, Ginger Kohles
  • Cover Design/Playbill: Ginger Kohles
Tagged as:

This article can be linked to as:

started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

17 Responses »

  1. I saw the show the same night as you all and am surprised at your mixed review. I think you are over analyzing a show that does not need to be over analyzed. The show is a very simple story about following dreams. It’s very sweet. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t over think this one!!

    The cast was fantastic-for three people to hold an audiences’ attention for an hour and 40 minutes (and for me not to realize it is an hour and 40 minutes) is pretty incredible. They were having so much fun with the comedy and kept the serious scenes, like the song you mentioned, Laura, that much more poignant. I hope to go see it again.

  2. I don’t get this review. Perhaps it was different on the night you saw it. But I came with friends on Friday and loved it. I think you fell into a common reviewing trap that you must be wary of. I am a fan of the show and know the score inside and out. I also saw the Metro Stage production as you did. I what you mean by the “spark” that you thought was missing in Sugar. There wasn’t a spark missing, ESP just didn’t go to the lurid place with the song that Metro Stage did. I thought it was actually funnier that way.

    You shouldn’t compare the director’s take from Metro Stage to the the director’s take at Elden Street. As a matter of fact, you should try to take the other production completely out of mind. I know that is difficult and sometimes comparisons help, but with two productions that are so drastically different, comparisons do not work. I think you expected the take on the overall show to be just like Metro Stage. You should know that never happens. And theatre is all the better for it. Otherwise people wouldn’t go to see Hamlet any more because they already saw it in 1983.

    As for the cast, I agree with Greg. They were fantastic. Again, disagree with your critique on energy. They crackled when I saw them. They made me exhausted watching. They sounded great, had an obvious bond and delivered on the funny and touching moments. I highly recommend this show to anyone.

  3. I tried really hard to not compare to MetroStage’s production, but maybe I wasn’t successful at that. Regardless, Laura enjoyed ESP’s show, and it is a good show, as I said, even if I didn’t care for some parts of it.

  4. Has this show been reviewed by other sources? I’m curious to know what others thought. I’m a big RENT fan, so, maybe I am biased. I just really enjoyed this production and have told many friends about it.

  5. […] : Review of Elden Street Players tick, tick…Boom! […]

  6. I was in the theater the same night as you, but am not sure we saw the same show. I was blown away by the performances of the cast and crew for Tick,Tick Boom on Saturday night. I thought the vocals and performance of the cast were amazing. The fact that the person who played the character Jon stayed out on the stage delivering strong vocals for 1 hour 40 minutes without much of a break is a testament to his talent. I also loved the quick costume and charachter changes the other two characters, Michael and Susan, performed brought humor and spontinaity to the show. I am pregnant and don’t last long sitting, but the time I spent there on Saturday night flew by. I would highly recommend this play to others and agree with one thing the reviewers said, get there early so you don’t get stuck in the top row, otherwise it is a good view from anywhere in the house.

  7. I saw this production on Saturday of opening weekend and don’t see what all the fuss is about. To me, it was just ok. I respect the guy in the lead for having to be out there the entire show, but it just seemed flat. Maybe they were underrehearsed or something, but vocally, there were a lot of clunkers, especially with some of the harmonies and it was distracting. The gal playing Susan did a great job with the song at the end of the show, but I didn’t get that unfortunate costume at all! I didn’t see the Studio production, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I guess I was just expecting something with a little more….umph, from Elden Street. There were some very nice moments, but again, I was expecting more than just a few nice moments.

  8. I agree with Laura on this one and would ask what show Mary was watching. I respect the actors for taking on a difficult piece, especially the lead for what is certainly an exhausting 90 minutes. That said, “A” for effort doesn’t apply here. The vocals here were often times sloppy, if not flat out wrong. Perhaps most of you are not familiar with the score. If not, I assure you that there are some beautiful harmonies and incredible rock-pop moments. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much evidence of that on the Saturday night I was there. The two gentlemen’s voices were just not suited for that music– I have seen them in other productions where there talents were on better display. As for the female, while her big number was the vocal highlight of the show, she too was ill-suited to her role. There was no chemistry between her and the lead– and any drama or tension that was supposed to be there amongst the cast was simply lacking. Was this a decent community theater production? Absolutely. But I agree with Laura– it’s not up to the things I have seen at Elden Street. It could have been MUCH better.

  9. All,

    I’m pretty sure I speak for the rest of the cast when I say we very much appreciate everyone’s input and are glad that you were able to make it to the show. Part of ESP’s mission is to mount difficult and often rarely seen productions. The result of which can either truly impress or not (both evidenced here.) Though, from my experience, it usually impresses. I can say that regardless of the response (though we truly hope that everyone enjoys the show), we love putting it in front of you. Thanks for bringing attention to the show and, above all, coming to see it. You’re helping make what we do possible. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen Tick,Tick BOOM!, aren’t you curious? Don’t miss what everyone’s talking about! Tickets are selling fast!

    We promise to do our best 🙂

    Josh Doyle

    The views expressed are solely those of the blogger and do not reflect the views of Elden Street Players or any other party

  10. I was there the same night as you were, Saturday the 2nd. I am mystified that you did not feel a “spark” between Susan and Jon. Did you come in late? Goodness. I enjoyed it to the max. I intend to see it again before it closes. The beautiful three-part-harmonies were among the things I want to experience again.

  11. Debating theater– and art in general– is healthy so I certainly welcome a differing opinion. But to respond to Eileen’s question– I assure you I was not late. And if you wanted to hear “beautiful” harmonies– you should buy the original cast recording– or hopefully you caught the recent stellar production at MetroStage. Otherwise, I guess we have differing views on what is considered beautiful. Or you have a lower threshold for what good community theater is.

  12. I saw the show last Saturday and I agree that some of the harmonies were at times so off key and flat that I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. John gave the role of Jon all he had and deserved an A for effort. I had heard that there were some cast changes and musical director changes, and I can only imagine what Josh and John and Kristen went through. I have seen better productions at ESP, and expect better from this great theatre company. The MetroStage production was terrific, but comparing the two productions is unfair. I will say, that it’s always nice to hear that wonderful score. I thought the set distracted me from hearing the lyrics, while the cast was singing while walking up and down that set. The show would have been better on a bare stage with a piano and a couple of chairs. That’s why I go to ESP-for their “in your face” productions. I couldn;t get lost in the emotions of this production, because . I jgot lost in the set.

  13. We just attended the performance last Saturday night, August 9. As a frequent performer, director, producer and more in community theater (over 25 productions in last 10 years) and a regular theater subscriber and patron, I do have to commend Eldon Street Players for a good community theater production. I do know how difficult it can be to stage productions on shoe-string budgets and I really admire some of the solutions they found to what could be cost-challenging situations. I was impressed with the talent of the three individuals, but there is room for improvement. Both my wife and I (she is a veteran in community theater with more experience than I) felt that the cast was strong vocally, but some of the acting left some room for improvement. We, too, felt that the chemistry between the threesome felt cold and distant at the beginning (it was appropriate for the end, but you shouldn’t play the end of the play at the beginning). I loved the lead’s voice when singing, but thought he was a little flat on his line-readings. He had moments where he shone, but was inconsistent. My wife found that the girlfriend’s singing and acting took too much time to “warm up” and she lost interest in the character by 1/3 of the way through. Once she no longer felt strongly about the character, she didn’t care about the ending. All of these things are ones that really require the director to fix. These are issues that the actors cannot always see from inside the play and the director has to recognize and fix. There were also a number of costume errors that were distracting. For example, the jeans that the lead wore are quite appropriate for a 29-30 year old born after 1975, but definitely not appropriate for one born in 1960 (I know…I’m old). Just one example.

    Overall a good community theater production and I commend the company for the many things that were good, but, there is still room for improvement.

  14. Native New Yorker with many friends in theater (i.e. restaurants), as well as a tin ear, I know what it means to “rent.” I liked the plot and found each of the characters played by the actors endearing in their own way. However, finding my own auditory system in pain during much of the play says something must be very wrong with the singing!

  15. Michael Toscano of the Washington Post has reviewed Tick, Tick… BOOM!. The article is not available on the Post’s web site, but Elden Street has reprinted the review : Tick, Tick… BOOM! Puts Focus On the Biological Clock of a Man.

  16. Wow. I’m amazed at how rude people are. I saw the production for a second time this weekend….INCREDIBLE. To the cast and crew…you are all to be commended for one of the best productions (community and professional) I have EVER seen. It’s not all perfect–what show is–but people are plainly being rude on this forum. It’s very disappointing. Cast, you’ve got a lot of fans out there…

  17. Brad Hathaway of Potomac Stages has reviewed Tick, Tick… BOOM!.

    And at this point, comments are closed on this production. Feel free to contact ShowBizRadio if you have thoughts about the show, playing for one more weekend.