CLO Cabaret Returns with Jonathan Larson Colleague Directing ‘tick, tick … BOOM!’

Pittsburgh CLO will open the newly renovated Greer Cabaret with Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical tick, tick … BOOM!, directed by the late RENT creator’s friend and colleague, Martha Banta.

Martha Banta and Jonathan Larson at an NYTW benefit in 1995. (Used with permission from Martha Banta and Larson Family)

The show comes to the stage of the Greer, in a space that now has more of a nightclub look, rather than its previous black box incarnation, September 22-October 22. The show also marks the return of CLO’s Kara Cabaret Series.

tick, tick… BOOM! features book, music and lyrics by Larson, who won a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award as the composer of RENT. In his brand of rock ‘n’ Broadway, Larson tells the story of an up-and-coming composer named Jon and the sacrifices that he made to achieve his big break in theater. 

Larson died at his home on January 25, 1996, ten days before his 36th birthday and the day before the first off-Broadway preview of RENT

The musical was made into a 2021 movie by Lin-Manuel Miranda, starring Oscar-nominee Andrew Garfield, and will be directed by Neil Patrick Harris in the Kennedy Center’s kickoff to 2024.

Among her many credits, Banta comes to Pittsburgh having been resident director RENT for New York Theatre Workshop, Broadway, London and two national tours, plus having directed productions in Japan and Germany. 

Playing Jon and making his Pittsburgh CLO debut is Ethan Riordan, a Yale graduate who spent a year singing and traveling with the a cappella group, The Whiffenpoofs. “An aspiring young composer” himself, Riordan currently is scoring a full-length feature film and collaborating on a musical adaptation of the novel The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness

The other characters in tick … tick, BOOM! are divided among Pittsburgh’s Brady Patsy, seen recently in CLO summer productions including Once on This Island and Guys & Dolls, and Sarah Bishop, making her CLO Cabaret debut. Her TikTok account @singwithbishop boasts 10,500 followers.

Robert Neumeyer is back at the Greer as music director, with other familiar faces behind the scenes. The creative team lists video designer Nathan W. Scheuer, which is promising for a look at the new stage’s video capabilities.


CLO Cabaret’s production of tick, tick… BOOM! Is at the Greer Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown, September 22-October 22, 2023. Tickets start at $35 and are available online at pittsburghcLO.org or by calling 412-456-6666.

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