Tick, Tick... BOOM!
musical by Jonathan Larson
- Opening lines, over the sound of ticking
The sound you are hearing is not a technical problem. It is not a musical cue. It is not a joke. It is the sound of one man's mounting anxiety. I ... am that man. ...Hi.
- In one week I’ll be thirty. Three-zero. Older than my Dad was when I was born. Older than Napoleon was when he ... did something that was probably extremely impressive at the time – I’m not a historian. I’m a composer. Sorry, a “promising young composer.” I should have kids of my own by now, a career, but instead I've been "promising" for so long I'm afraid I'm starting to break the fucking promise.
- So that’s where we are. It’s a Saturday night in January, 1990, in my apartment on the edge of SoHo; I’m trying to work, trying to enjoy what remains of my extremely late 20s, trying to ignore the tick tick booms.
- It's no big deal. What's thirty? Just, you know, the end of youth.
- Goddamn it, I am looking forward to it!
- I realize I've forgotten how to play the piano completely. Holy shit, have I forgotten how to play the piano because I don't want to play Happy Birthday because I don’t want to –- Oh God – grow up?
- Michael's moving out. He's making so much money he bought an apartment with the bathtub in the bathroom.
- And if there's enough buzz the show might be produced and if the show is produced it might be a hit -- and if it is I won't have to take the marketing job and I can buy the BMW anyway and I will have done it all before I'm thirty, or at least I can fudge the dates to make it sound that way in my Sunday Times Arts & Leisure Profile.
I am not proud of this line of thinking.
But it's not my fault! It's hard for people born after 1960 to be idealistic or original. We know what happens to ideals. They're assassinated or corrupted or co-opted. It's 1990 for God's sake. It is not an exciting period. It is not a period of ferment. It's fucking stodgy is what it is -- conservative, complacent, obtuse and unimaginative. Or, to put it another way: George Bush is president of the United States.
- The lights from the prison barge flicker in her eyes.
- 6 AM. The sky glows. Somewhere a bird chirps. I want to shoot it.
- I want to write music. I want to sit down right now at my piano and write a song that people will listen to and remember, and do the same thing every morning for the rest of my life.
- I sink into a soft leather seat. Michael guns twelve fuel-injected Bavarian-engineered market-research-funded cylinders across Houston Street. His new Beamer ... is fucking awesome.
- We zhhhooooom -- past the inhabitants of SOHO, wearing black, black, black, black...
Past the East Village kids with purple pink green blue spike-buzz cuts, jutting through deconstructed SILENCE = DEATH t-shirts...
Past the Windex, the squeegies, the outstretched palms, the Bowery Night Train philosophers...
How can I possibly leave this behind?
- Once, at a seminar, on a day I will never forget, I got to have my work picked apart -- and praised, a little -- by my idol, a composer-lyricist so legendary his name may not be uttered aloud by me, St---- S-------.
But I write musicals with rock music. A contradiction in terms. Broadway's about 60 years behind anything you hear on the radio. You can't put rock onstage – real rock, not warmed-over easy-listening pop, not plastic imitation 50s bubblegum. Nevertheless, that's what I'm trying to do with Superbia.
Could my show end up here? Is it good enough for Broadway, that magical street of dreams? Is it too good for Broadway, that shameless commercial whore? It's that raging mix of envy and contempt that's so ... healthy.
- I grew up on Tony the Tiger and Captain Crunch, but unlike other Boomer Juniors haven't progressed to more socially accepted fixes, like Ben and Jerry's. I go for the original high-powered numb-busting goodness of the Hostess Twinkie Snack Cake.
The only problem is, it's humiliating to buy a Twinkie. I walk up to the counter feeling like I'm 17 and buying condoms for the first time.
- They're snack cakes. They're not unlike rice cakes, only cylindrical and injected with cream.
- Maybe this is it. Maybe I really have written the show that will reinvent musicals for our generation -- the Hair of the 90s -- the cultural lightening rod that will energize the 20-something generation, we "slackers," raised on the Brady Bunch and Reaganomics, armed with nothing but Credit Cards, VCRs and Interview Magazine, blowing like tumbleweeds through the 90s, fighting off the savage arrows of apathy, illiteracy, innumeracy, exploding Visa bills, eating disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, political correctness....
- The apartment is warm and noisy. I realize I don't want to escape to the roof, or fly to Cuba, or hide in the bathroom.
- Referring to a bithday cake lit by candles
The darkness is pierced by a blinding glow.
- The tick tick booms are softer now. I can barely hear them, and I think if I play loud enough I can drown them out completely.
- Susan: I am a dancer. I'd still be a dancer if I lived in New England, but I'd have a dishwasher.
- Susan: Jon. Are you weighing whether the trip up here is worth the cable TV?
- Rosa: Honey, we always knew it's a little quirky for Broadway, and the cast is awfully big for Off-, and the futuristic thing means sets are expensive and musical theater is Newark Airport and you're snowed in at Buffalo -- and now, having plucked out your heart and eaten it like a piece of ripe fruit I'll leave you to sweep up the fragments of your shattered dreams, bye bye honey! Happy birthday!
- Michael: Thirty's great. Thirty's like Newark Airport.
- Jon: Newark Airport?
- Michael: Hard to get to, but once you're here, fewer delays.
- Jon: Mike spends way too much time traveling on business.
- Jon: Has turning thirty always sucked? Or is our generation different because we've never grown up? Never had a real test. A Depression. A World War, Vietnam -- Maybe that's what I need.
- Susan: Good idea. I'll try to arrange that for you.
- Michael: Check out the seat.
- Jon: The seat? ...The seat is heated.
- Michael: And you can adjust it.
- Jon: This is a car that allows you to adjust the temperature of your ass.
- Michael: What do you think?
- Jon: Back home in Soho, Michael is trying on one of three new Gucci belts he's just bought.
- Michael: Well?
- Jon: I don’t know, Mike. I haven't owned three belts over the course of my entire life.
- Michael: Try it. It's a good feeling.
- Michael: How's Susan?
- Jon: Okay.
- Michael: Just okay?
- Jon: She wants us to move to Cape Cod.
- Michael: I am so sorry.
- Susan:That's not what I'm saying.
- Jon:That's what you're inferring.
- Susan: No, you mean that's what I'm implying. And I'm not implying it, you inferred it.
- Jon:Hi, yeah, I'll just take these, uh, double-A batteries, and a pack of the Bic pens, and uh, a Wall Street Journal, and a Mademoiselle...
- Counter Guy: And four packages of Twinkies.
- Jon: Right.
- Jon: I can't do this Mike.
- Michael: Uh?
- Jon: The theater, the music. I gave it my shot. I think I've given it an honest try, with all the talent and effort I've got. And it hasn’t worked. I'm not sorry I tried. I'm proud of it, but now it's time to take hard look at my situation and not be egotistical, not delude myself, just admit it's time to move on. I've been stuck. Everyone else, you and Susan, have kept moving. I'm the only one still here banging my head against the wall. My head hurts. I'm going to stop for awhile. The thing is, I can always come back to it, if I want, when I'm older, when I'm smarter, when I've figured out a little more clearly what it is I want to do. ...I feel better. Just hearing myself say it, I already feel better.
- Michael: You're right. I think your heart is telling you something, and I think what you're saying takes courage. I think it takes courage to let all that stuff go. I'm proud of you.
- Jon: You are?
- Michael: No, of course not, you fucking idiot.
- Michael: Fear is like Newark Airport--
- Jon: Screw Newark Airport!
- Jon: He tosses me a box. I open it. Three belts. Gucci?
- Michael: Not Gucci. You're not a Gucci guy. But it's life-affirming to own multiple accessories, and I want you experience that.
- Jon: Years are getting shorter, lines on your face are getting longer. Feels like you're treading water, but the rip tide's getting stronger. Don't panic, don't jump ship, can't fight it, like taxes.
- Jon: Turn thirty, 1990, bang, you're dead -- what can you do?
- Jon: Friends are getting fatter, hairs on your head are getting thinner. Feel like a cleanup batter on a team that ain't a winner.
- Jon: Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, which way to Never-NeverLand? Emerald City's gone to Hell since the Wizard blew off his command. On the street you hear the voices, lost children, crocodiles, but you're not into making choices, wicked witches, poppy fields or men behind the curtain, tiger lillies, ruby slippers, clock is ticking, that's for certain.
- Jon, Michael and Susan: Fuck thirty ninety!
- Jon: The world is calling -- it's now or Neverland. Why can't I stay a child forever?
GREEN GREEN DRESS
- Jon: Soft blonde hair; baby, baby blue eyes. Cool me down before I jump into your thighs.
- Jon: The green, green dress, twenty buttons and a strap. The green, green dress, what a pleasure to unwrap.
JOHNNY CAN'T DECIDE
- All: How can you soar if you're nailed to the floor?
- All: Forever in the blue silver chromium diner
- Jon: Drips the green, orange, violet drool
- All: From the fools
- Jon: Who'd pay less at home, driking coffee
- All: Light and dark
- Jon: And cholesterol. And bums, bums, bums, bums, bums, bums, bums, bums, bums...
- Michael: No more walking thirteen blocks with thirty pounds of laundry in the fucking dead of winter.
- Michael and Jon: No more
- Jon: Taking a shower in the kitchen
- Both: While your roommate's eating breakfast and you're getting water on his cornflakes!
- Both: Hello to dear Mr. Doorman, who looks like Captain Kangaroo.
- Jon and Susan: I'm not mad that you got mad when I got mad when you said I should go drop dead.
- Jon: Now it's out in the open.
- Susan: Now it's off our chest.
- Both: Now it's four AM, and we have therapy tomorrow, it's too late to screw, so let's just get some rest.
- Michael: Why do we seek out ecstacy
- Michael and Jon: In all the world places? Why is it hard to see that heaven can have simplier faces?
- Jon: Sugar, she's refined. For a small price, she blows my mind. Sugar, she's got the power. Soothes my soul for half an hour.
- Jon and Counter Guy: Stressed out
- Karessa: Burned out
- All: Hanging by a string -- sugar, sugar, sugar, I won't feel a thing!
- Jon: Only thing I know is that she makes my life such a mess.