Is Tick, Tick… Boom! Based on a True Story?

‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ is a musical drama movie directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (‘Hamilton‘) from a screenplay penned by Steven Levenson. It tells the story of Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield), a man approaching his 30th birthday who is desperately trying to realize his dream of becoming a theater composer. In his quest, he faces many challenges and begins to experience a quarter-life crisis.

The beautifully filmed and exquisitely written movie comes to life with the help of brilliant performances and foot-tapping musical numbers. However, is the inspiring and moving story actually based on any true events? If you watched the movie, we are sure this question must have crossed your mind, and we have the answers to it! Here’s everything you need to know about the inspiration behind ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’

Is Tick, Tick… Boom! a True Story?

Yes, ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ is based on a true story. The movie is based on Jonathan Larson’s musical of the same name and was adapted for the screen by Steven Levenson (‘Fosse/Verdon‘). The musical features a semi-autobiographical story based on Larson’s struggles and experiences in trying to establish himself in mainstream performing arts.

Image Credit: Tick, Tick… Boom!/Netflix

Larson graduated from Adelphi University in 1982, and by 1983 began working on a musical titled ‘Superbia,’ a futuristic story with rock music numbers. Larson spent the next several years of his life working on ‘Superbia’ and managed to put up a presentation of the musical. Still, it ultimately failed to become an entirely produced show. After that, Larson began working on a rock monologue initially titled ’30/90.’ It was first performed in a workshop at the Second Stage Theater in September 1990 under the title ‘Boho Days.’ He then revised the piece and performed it himself a couple of months later as ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’

In the following years, Larson finished working on the musical ‘Rent,’ which went on to become his most celebrated creation. However, before it premiered on Broadway, Larson passed away from an aortic dissection on January 25, 1996, at the age of 35. After his death, ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ was revived by David Auburn as a three actor stage piece, and it premiered Off-Broadway in 2001.

The film uses music as a narrative device to explore Larson’s journey in the world of theater, detailing his various personal and professional relationships. The movie opens with a word of caution that reminds the audience that even though the original musical is based on Larson’s life, it features some fictional elements from the composer.

Although Larson never got to see the success of his works due to his untimely passing, they continue to inspire many people, and one of them is the film’s director Lin-Manuel Miranda. The director has stated that after watching Larson’s ‘Rent’ on his seventeenth birthday, he felt compelled to try his hand at writing musicals. Miranda saw the Off-Broadway production of ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ in 2001 and was inspired by it. In an interview with the EW, Miranda expressed that it has been his life-long dream to make a movie about Larson’s life. “I thought, ‘Man, if they only ever let me direct one movie, this is the one I could do well,'” he said.

Ultimately, ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ is a celebration of Larson’s works and life itself. Larson’s original musical being a direct inspiration for the movie’s director speaks volumes about the playwright’s exceptional legacy and zealous storytelling style. The film leaves the audience with the message of believing in your dreams, making it an emotional and relatable experience. It also serves as a love letter to the musical theater industry and clicks (or should we say ticks) because it portrays the genuine anxieties of a man trying to achieve his dreams.

Read More: Best Movie Musicals on Netflix