Jonathan Larson

From Academic Kids

Jonathan Larson (February 4, 1960-January 25, 1996) was a composer from New York City who created musicals including Rent and tick, tick...BOOM!.

Although these musicals appeal heavily to angst-ridden teenagers, they seriously tackle issues such as multiculturalism, addiction, sexual orientation and HIV (for the record: Jonathan Larson was heterosexual and HIV negative). Rent was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won four Tony Awards; the scores of his shows reveal that he was an apt composer and lyricist.

One tick, tick...BOOM! song called "Sunday" is an homage to Stephen Sondheim, who supported Larson, staying close to the melody and lyrics of Sondheim's own song of the same title but turning it from a manifesto about art into a waiter's lament.

Amongst many awards he received during and after his lifetime, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (for Rent), the Richard Rodgers Production Award, the Richard Rodgers Development Grant, the Stephen Sondheim Award, the Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Theatre Foundation's Commendation Award, the Tonys for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Score of a Musical for Rent, the Drama Desks for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Book, and Best Lyrics (also for Rent), the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical (again for Rent), the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical in the Off-Broadway category (another for Rent), and three Obie Awards for Outstanding Book, Outstanding Lyrics and Outstanding Music (yet again for Rent).

Among his many creative works are Rent, tick, tick...BOOM!, Sacrimoralimmorality with David Armstrong (retitled Saved for the one-week run on 42nd Street), Superbia, the music for J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation, numerous individual numbers, music for Sesame Street, music for the children's book casettes of An American Tail and Land Before Time, music for Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, and four songs for the children's video Away We Go! (which he also conceived and directed).

Mr. Larson died unexpectedly of an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm, believed to have been caused by Marfan Syndrome, on January 25th, 1996. It was ten days before his 36th birthday, and only hours before Rent premiered Off-Broadway.

After his death, Mr. Larson's family and friends started the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation.

Production History

Rent started as a staged reading in 1993 at the New York Theatre Workshop, followed by a studio production that played a three-week run a year later. The version now known worldwide opened Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop on January 26, 1996 and opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996.

tick, tick...BOOM! has played off-Broadway at the Charles Street Playhouse.

Superbia has played at Playwrights Horizons and as a rock concert at the Village Gate.

J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation was an En Garde Arts Company production.

Sacrimoralimmorality was Larson's first musical, co-written with David Armstrong, and originally staged at Adelphi University sometime in the 1980s. Retitled Saved, it played an unacclaimed one-week run in a 42nd Street theatre.

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