Play looks at issues that bedeviled young writer

The story line is one that Danny Lee thinks most people can relate to.


"Everybody has a struggle in their life, of 'Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? Am I good enough to do it?' " said Mr. Lee, who is directing Tick, Tick ... Boom. The play will open Friday, Aug. 22, for two weekends at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

The show was written by Jonathan Larson, who also wrote Rent . It's an autobiographical piece that he performed as a one-man show. After his death, his friends rewrote it as a three-person show with 10 characters.

It reveals Mr. Larson's insecurities at a low point in his life -- just before he turned 30 in 1990. He died in 1996, just days before his 36th birthday, of an aneurysm.

In the play, his girlfriend wants him to abandon his dreams of music and get married, and his best friend has already left for a lucrative career elsewhere.

Then, "his girlfriend leaves him, and his best friend tells him he's HIV-positive," Mr. Lee said.

People keep telling him how wonderful his work is, but no one wants to produce his shows. He had spent all of his life pursuing his musical dreams.

The Aiken Community Playhouse version of the show features two men and two women. One of the women plays the love interest, Susan, who leaves Larson. The other plays his new love, Karessa.

Joe Mitchell plays Jon; Johnny Bethell is Michael and others; Shanna Blackmon is Susan; and Maggie Knapp plays Karessa.

Stephen Sondheim, who was Larson's mentor, makes a cameo appearance via a recording.

Tick, Tick ... Boom is not as well known as Rent, but Mr. Lee likes lesser-known works.

"If it's not well known, a lot of people don't want to attend, but that's the purpose of community theater -- to introduce people to new things," he said.

The show will be performed at 8 p.m. Aug. 22, 23, 29 and 30, and at 3 p.m. Aug. 24. Tickets are $12 for playhouse members and $15 for nonmembers. For more information, call (803) 648-1438 or visit

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