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Michael Luwoye Talks About The Big 30 and "Tick, Tick...BOOM!"

By Gary Wien


American Theater Group, New Jersey's newest professional theater company, is presenting Jonathan Larson's rock musical tick, tick...BOOM January 28 through February 8 at Hamilton Stage (360 Hamilton Street) in Rahway. The play deals with a struggling artist who is trying to keep it all together; his girlfriend, his childhood buddy… and turning thirty, all while trying to write the next great american musical. Before there Jonathan Larson became a household name with RENT, there was tick, tick...BOOM -- his own story.

American Theater Group's production stars Nicholas Park as Jon, Shannon O'Boyle as Susan, and Michael Luwoye as Jon's best friend. The production is directed by Igor Goldin. New Jersey Stage had the opportunity to talk with Michael Luwoye about his thoughts on the play and on artists and the big 30...

tick, tick...BOOMdeals with the issue of turning 30 and wondering if you’re on the right path or if its time to stop dreaming.  Are you dreading turning 30 too?
I just recently turned turned 24 in December and that in itself has felt like a drastic change from last year. I am, however, actually looking forward to my 30's. While it's more than likely romanticized on my part, there's a sense of stability and self-assurance that I believe comes with that age in life.

Have you ever judged your success up against your friends like he does? Do you still find yourself doing that?
Absolutely! I feel like it's natural to compare yourself in a field like ours. Nowadays, I find myself comparing myself to others and understanding that we're meant to be on the different paths we're partaking in.

When you see characters like Michael who left acting in order to make a living (and now makes a very good living) does that bum you out? Or does it make you want to work harder to reach your goals?
Honestly, neither. The reality of being an actor isn't easy by any means, and making the decision to peruse this as a career comes with ups and downs like every other career. I like the pace in which I'm growing in this field so, while every day isn't pots of gold or butterflies, I don't feel that I'm needing to over-exert myself based on this character's (or other's) successes.

Be honest, have you ever (or do you still) wait tables?  If you have, did you ever wait on anybody famous? Every get any acting jobs from it?
I am currently a cater-waiter when I'm not working on shows, and I actually enjoy it a lot. I've never received any theatre work from a catering job - nor do I ever expect to.

Both RENT and tick, tick...BOOMhelped usher in a new era of musicals based more on rock and roll than before.  As an actor, do you prefer traditional musicals or the slightly edgier rock and roll musical?
I've found myself relating to more traditional musicals in the past, but I've also found that I grow from the youth and edge that rock and roll/more contemporary pieces bring to the table. To me, the latter feels like a more accessible medium to translate what we are currently experiencing in the world today.

What’s your favorite number to sing in the play?
Louder Than Words

What are your overall thoughts on tick, tick...BOOM?  Had you ever seen a production before taking the role?
I was fortunate to see the City Center's production last year. I knew some of the music before watching the show, but seeing the characters live on the stage really brought everything together for me. TTB is a very universal piece that translates the everyday pressures of time, identity, success, and complacency in a real way. Everybody has there own personal tick tick booms whether we acknowledge them or not, and I feel this show does a great job of representing that.

How has your experience working with the American Theater Group and what do you think of the Hamilton Stage space?
It has been a very welcoming experience working here. Working in the space has been a lot of fun so far and I am pumped for an audience to get to witness our work.

What about working with Igor Goldin.  What’s that been like?
Igor's appreciation for story and intention is very refreshing. It's been a great experience to listen to him dissect this piece and also share our insights with him & play them out onstage.

Finally, what are your thoughts on Jonathan Larson and his work? He sadly died far too soon. If he had lived, do you think he might ever have been able to match or top the works of Rent and tick, tick...BOOM?
I don't know if he would have tried to match or top either of his works. I think Jonathan Larson was very attuned to the universal truths and struggles we all experience day to day. Based on Rent and TTB's content and themes, I have a sense that he would have continued to make personal pieces that would've evolved with and represented the voice of our current era.



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Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.
Pebble Players Presents "Heathers, the Musical: High School Edition"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Celebrating their 10th season, Pebble Players has been entertaining Summit residents and audiences from surrounding towns with sophisticated Off-Broadway quality performances. The 2018 Season opens with "Heathers The Musical: High School Edition," directed by Jayne Myers and choreographed by Jaimie Woodruff.  Performances are Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 18 at 2:00pm. 
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies from Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Saturday, March 23, 2019. The high-style music of “The Duke” is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, directed with dazzle by André De Shields (The Wiz). Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, re-creates the original show’s elegant dancing and tapping as choreographer.
Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) --  A family musical that’s perfect for the holiday season, “Peter Pan” is flying onto the Axelrod stage December 8-16. Axelrod’s award-winning Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts program presents one of Broadway’s timeless classics in a fully staged production directed by Lisa Goldfarb with musical direction by Randy Hurst and choreography by Wendy Roman.  


Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
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The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
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See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
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"It's a Blast!" Go See Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour NOW! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
The five-time Tony award-nominated Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, returns to the stage with a 10th Anniversary Tour at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! Performed in the venue’s ultra-modern Sound Waves theater, Rock of Ages runs from now until November 4, 2018.
There's One In Every Family: "Charley's Aunt" at The Shakespeare Theatre
On stage now through November 18 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, “Charley’s Aunt” is described as “part Oscar Wilde, part ‘Fawlty Towers,’ with a dash of South American spice!” This side-splitting British farce from 1892 has drag, mistaken identity, romance and plenty of physical comedy. Join Jesse and Dave at rehearsals in Florham Park to hear from the cast and director what makes this such a hilarious and enduring show.






Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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