tick, tick... Boom! - THAT Production Company

‘tick, tick… Boom!’ to boom on to stage at Ipswich Civic Centre

While the coronavirus pandemic put many dreams on pause, THAT Production Company’s latest production is showing audiences how important it is to keep pursuing your passions.

Starring a team of local performers, and directed by Timothy Wynn with music direction by Luke Volker, the new production will blast into Ipswich city, at the Ipswich Civic Centre, from next week for four shows only. 

With book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, who is known for his work on ‘Rent’, ‘tick, tick…Boom!’ is a show that encourages audiences to follow their dreams – and is set to a rock-inspired soundtrack of great music. Originally a rock monologue performed by Larson himself, the story follows composer Jon, whose girlfriend Susan wants to get married and leave the city, and whose closest friend Michael is prioritising his lucrative Madison Avenue career. Should Jon keep waiting tables while trying to compose the next great American musical?

tick, tick... Boom! - THAT Production Company
The cast of THAT Production Company’s ‘tick. tick… Boom!’. Starring Stephanie Long, Chris White, Josh Whitten and Henry Kafoa (left to right).

Actor and cast member, Henry Kafoa, spoke about the relatable themes within the show, and how it has the ability to create a significant impact on audiences. 

“The way it’s written is so impactful and ‘listenable’ if that’s a word,” Kafoa said. “The storyline itself is just the universal story of a man who is wrestling with himself of whether he follows his dreams and what he’s passionate about or gives up on that because he thinks it may not happen.”

Set in 1990, it’s unlikely Larson could have foreseen the relevance amid a global pandemic 30 years later.

“So many performers have turned to other day jobs; we’ve fallen through the cracks because we don’t normally have permanent contracts that fit JobKeeper,” Kafoa muses. “A lot of people would be asking the same questions of themselves right now: as much as I love this, I need food on the table and I have loved ones, family to support. Is there a way to continue this while achieving other goals?”

After Day 1 of an intense rehearsal period running less than two weeks, Kafoa says he identifies with both characters he’s preparing to play as Swing in Larson’s autobiographical musical.

“Jon is approaching his 30s and is having a midlife crisis about what he’s doing; will he ever be important? Will he ever be good enough at what he’s doing? I’m turning 30 in two months, so I identify with that,” Kafoa explains. “Michael is on a different journey where he’s found a way to take things that are important to him and make that work in a different context.”

The difference for Kafoa? His ability to turn his passion for singing into a teaching career and topic for his PhD research, “which is just as important to me as any performing I do now.”

The Tweed Coast native said he had shifted his focus to his PhD amid the coronavirus restrictions but then got a call from director Timothy Wynn, asking if he’d like to swing for the production.

“There was a possibility some of the cast may need to pull out at some stage and my understanding was, if there was a possibility for future tours, he’d like to have backups.”

tick, tick... Boom! - THAT Production Company
Henry Kafoa stars in the upcoming production of ‘tick, tick… Boom!’.

While a swing role is often equated with an understudy, Kafoa will have a guaranteed performance as Michael in the matinee on Saturday, 30 October. He said Wynn has been receptive to new ideas this time around: the 28-30 October 2021 schedule is a highly-anticipated return season.

Kafoa and Christopher White (as Jon) joined original cast members Josh Whitten (Michael) and Stephanie Long (Susan).

“Tim is using what they developed last time but taking the opportunity over this week to find new elements that really suit us,” Kafoa said.

“Josh is currently in ‘Gruffalo’ so I’ve had more time on the floor than I normally would in a swing capacity. It’s been really cool to get up and do a couple of scenes, then step back and watch and learn from the way the scenes change; and how the approach to direction and music direction changes just based on it being a different individual.”

Kafoa himself is an encouraging example of living that dream, with a combination of performing and teaching. So what advice does he give to his students?

“Remember the reason why they’re doing it and the reason they are passionate about it. I think it’s so easy – for singing, acting, dancing – for your passion to become work and to lose the joy in it. The industry is tough enough – going to auditions, relatively limited opportunities. If you don’t keep the spark and joy alive, it can become not worth it.”

While he’ll be in “PhD mode” focusing on vocal health for tertiary music theatre students after ‘tick, tick…Boom!’, you can find Kafoa at his website or through Brisbane Academy of Musical Theatre’s Hayward Street Studios.

Catch THAT Productions Company’s production of ‘tick, tick…Boom!’ at the Ipswich Civic Centre from 28 to 30 October 2021. For more information or to buy tickets, visit THAT Production Company’s website or Ipswich Civic Centre’s website.

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