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Whats the matter with turning 30?

Nothing, in &

145;tick, Tick ... BOOM!&

As John Lennon famously said, &

Life is what happens when you&

re making other plans.&

In 1990, when Jonathan Larson was turning 30, he wrote an autobiographical musical &

tick, Tick ... BOOM!&

about making life choices as he approached that scary milestone. Should he continue trying to make it as a musical theater composer? Take the safe, comfortable road and sell out to Madison Avenue? Chuck it all and move to bucolic Vermont with his girlfriend?

What did he, in fact, decide to do?

He decided to stick it out. Keep on waiting tables at the diner. Follow his dream.

At the time Larson was putting together &

tick, Tick ... BOOM!&

, this amusing bit of self-analysis, he was also working on another musical play. What would happen if you took Puccini&

s &

La Boheme&

and updated it into New York&

s East Village? What would happen if you superimposed your own life, your own friends, your own music onto the opera&

s structure?

You have the Broadway hit &

Rent.&

Larson&

s &

tick, Tick ... BOOM!&

had a couple of workshop productions but, ah, &

Rent.&

Now that was a play that got real attention. A reading at New York Theatre Workshop in 1993. Options, financing, production. The whole enchilada. In 1996, there was Jonathan Larson, still working as a waiter at that damned diner, watching his dreams become reality.

One night, during rehearsals &

ironically during the big second act number, &

What You Own,&

about dying at the end of the millennium &

Jonathan collapsed. He later joked with friends that he thought the last thing he would hear would be his own song about dying. He was diagnosed first with &

food poisoning.&

An episode a couple of days later was labeled &

flu.&

Jonathan was elated with &

Rent&

s&

success. He even quit his job at the diner &

and a friend videotaped him in his victory lap. After the final dress rehearsal, with everyone congratulating him and Broadway previews less than week away, Larson went home to his East Village walk-up apartment, made some tea &

and dropped dead of an aortic aneurysm. He was not quite 36 years old.

This production of &

tick, Tick ... BOOM!&

at Oregon Cabaret Theatre keeps that memory alive.

The music in &

tick, Tick ... BOOM!&

sounds a lot like the music in &

Rent.&

The world of &

Jon,&

&

Susan&

and &

Michael&

is the world of &

Rent.&

In some ways, &

tick, Tick ... BOOM!&

is &

Rent&

s&

first act.

Director Kevin Hill takes it very personally.

Hill first came to OCT last year. A veteran of touring musical productions &

he was in the chorus in one of the countless productions of &

Hello, Dolly&

with Carol Channing &

and a teacher of dance at Penn State, Hill sent his resume of directing and choreography to Jim Giancarlo. Giancarlo hired him to direct &

Forever Plaid.&

The collaboration worked and Giancarlo suggested that Hill direct &

tick, Tick ... BOOM!&

this season.

&

This is my dream,&

Hill says. &

I&

d like nothing better than to have an Oregon Cabaret Theatre of my own. I struggle every day with the decision of staying in this business, trying to make it as a director and choreographer, instead of playing it safe and returning to teaching.&

Hill is a native of Boston and he brings an East Coast sensibility to the production. He has worked at bringing New York&

s energy and regional accent to the production&

s three actors &

Daniel Simons (Jon) and Ginger Bess Simons (Susan) are from Salt Lake City; Shane Skinner (Michael) is from Grants Pass. Hill got a copy of Larson&

s farewell-to-the-diner videotape for his cast. &

Larson was so happy. He had worked waiting tables for 10 years. He was seeing his dream fulfilled. I wanted the cast to savor that emotional experience.&

&

Tick, Tick ... BOOM!&

previews at the Cabaret on Wednesday and Thursday, opens on Friday and plays until June 4. Performances are Thursday through Monday at 8 p.m., with a Sunday brunch matinee at — p.m. As always, dinner, brunch and desserts are available. For information and reservations, call 488-2902.

And director Kevin Hill? He leaves Ashland on April 15, spends a night at home and travels to Springboro, Ohio, on April 17 to start rehearsals for &

A Chorus Line.&

&

Yes, it&

s exhausting,&

he admits. &

But that&

s what I love to do.&