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Company continues with late Jonathan Larson's stories, this one about a young playwright finding his way in theater.

COURTESY PHOTO: ALEC LUGO/PCS - Jesse Weil stars as Jon in "tick tick … BOOM!," the autobiographical precursor to "Rent" by the late Jonathan Larson. Portland Center Stage puts it on starting Aug. 20 at The Armory.Before there was "Rent," there was "tick tick … BOOM!" from the late Jonathan Larson.

To start a season, and a few months after staging "Rent," Portland Center Stage puts on the play at The Armory. Previews start Saturday, Aug. 20 with the regular run Aug. 26-Sept. 18.

The "Rent" precursor and origin story was written by Larson as an autobiographical rock musical and he performed it as a solo rock monologue in 1990. He died in 1996 from an aortic aneurysm, just before his 36th birthday, but "tick tick … BOOM!" was revamped by playwright David Auburn as a three-actor piece with vocal arrangements and orchestrations by Stephen Oremus.

It premiered Off-Broadway in 2001, followed by a London production in 2005 starring Neil Patrick Harris. The musical was made popular again with Lin Manuel Miranda's 2021 Netflix movie.

It features a rock score and offers a proverbial backstage tour of the love and sweat Larson put into making his Broadway musical dreams a reality, PCS said.

Marissa Wolf, PCS artistic director, will direct, assisted by Music Director Ash and Choreographer Muffie Delgado Connelly. The cast includes Jesse Weil as Jon and Lauren Steele as Susan, making their PCS debuts.

"I'm thrilled to be working with this incredible team of artists on a show that is about the joyful, messy, difficult space of creation," Wolf said. "At the heart of this playful, rocking music is a question of how we each create a path for ourselves so that we can stand and move the world."

From PCS publicity: In "tick, tick … BOOM!," Larson taps into what it feels like to stand at the edge of a life transition, doubting everything, and wondering if you'll be able to do work that matters.

The play shows how Larson feels the pressure as he approaches his 30th birthday, trying to work his way into theater, seeking his big break. Will he sell out to keep the lights on? Will he lose the love of his life? Will he finally write the soaring song that can change everything? And if he does, will anyone be there to see it?

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