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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.

For more by this author, click here

American Girl Live: An Interview With Laila E. Drew and Shelby Miguel
Please note: Due to the potential of a major winter storm on Saturday, both performances of American Girl Live at Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown have been postponed and rescheduled for President’s Day, Monday, February 18 at 2 pm and 5:30 pm. All tickets will be honored on that date. If you cannot attend the new date, please contact the box office at 973-539-8008.
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The Panto Company Presents "Beauty and the Beast" at The Newton Theatre
(NEWTON, NJ) -- When you think of a dying rose and a clock, candlestick andteapot who talk... you are thinking Beauty and the Beast. One of this season's spellbinding family shows from The Panto Company USA stars Dame Dotty Potty, Loopy Louie, Gaston, Belle and of course The Beast!  The company brings their show to The Newton Theatre on Sunday, March 3 at 3:00pm.
La Strada Ensemble Theater Presents "La Bella Familia" by Edwin Sanchez
(OCEAN GROVE, NJ) -- La Strada Ensemble Theater presents La Bella Familia by Edwin Sanchez from January 18-20.  The play deals with a Puerto Rican hit woman and the gentlest man in the world move next door to the neighbors from hell and everyone learns, the hard way, that family comes first.
Art House Productions Presents "The Passion Project" by Reid Farrington
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Art House Productions presents the unique theatrical experience that is Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project performed by Laura K. Nicoll.  Eight performances will take place from February 21st to March 3rd. The Passion Project is a 30 minute vibration between performance, film, and installation. Carl Th.Dreyer’s 1928 immortal masterpiece, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is the main narrative along with the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, the story of making this project, as well as Joan’s own story –– her trial, torture, and execution. The Passion Project explodes the film into the three dimensions; placing the audience inside the film, sitting next to Joan, subjecting them to the relentless rhythm of 35 mm film projection.

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Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
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Event calendar
Friday, Jan 18, 2019


John Forster at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

David Massengill - Folk Concert @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

SAL "THE VOICE" VALENTINETTI @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Elvis Birthday Bash @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm


Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


The Jason Bishop Show to Benefit CASA @ Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro - 7:00pm

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