What happened to Jonathan Larson? Inside 'Tick, Tick...Boom' inspiration's death

Jonathan Larson, who is the inspiration behind Netflix's 'Tick, Tick...Boom', died on the eve of the opening of his most successful drama

                            What happened to Jonathan Larson? Inside 'Tick, Tick...Boom' inspiration's death
Jonathan Larson and Andrew Garfield (Facebook/Jonathan Larson, Netflix)

Netflix has a knack for treating its viewers with stories that create a lot of impact on the minds of people. Sometimes these stories are based on the lives of people who have done superbly in their professional careers and how they are forgotten as time passes.

The streaming platform is set to come out with another story that will surely blow everyone’s mind is none other than ‘Tick, Tick…Boom’. The story revolves around American composer and playwright Jonathan Larson, who was known for depicting social issues like multiculturalism, addiction, and homophobia in his work. Andrew Garfield will be playing the role of Larson in the movie and enthrall the viewers with another spectacular performance.


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The movie is just around the corner, but a lot of people don’t know about Larson and what kind of work he did. However, the most tragic thing about his life is that he didn’t live to see the success his projects garnered. Let’s take a look at his career and what happened when he started achieving success.

Jonathan Larson (Facebook)


Who was Jonathan Larson?

Born on February 4, 1960, Jonathan Larson was exposed to music and arts since his childhood. The composer went on to graduate from Adelphi University in New York and started performing in numerous plays and musical theatre. During his college years, he began music composition, composing music first for small student productions, called cabarets.

His earlier works included a futuristic rock retelling of George Orwell’s book ‘Nineteen Eight-Four’, titled ‘Superbia’. Although the Orwell estate denied him permission to adapt the novel, it won the Richard Rodgers Production Award and the Richard Rodgers Development Grant.

Jonathan Larson (Facebook)


He received a lot of praise for the writing and composing a musical play called ‘tick, tick… Boom’. This piece, written for only Larson with a piano and rock band, was intended to be a response to his feelings of rejection caused by the disappointment of ‘Superbia’.

However, his moment of glory came in 1996 when he came out with the popular musical play titled ‘Rent’. Larson started writing the play in 1991 and started staged reading in 1993. The musical play was released in 1996 and opened to packed houses. Even with such a successful opening, Larson’s career could not reach where he intended it to be.

How did he die?

After working so hard for three years on ‘Rent’, it was the day of its first off-broadway preview performance. However, the happy occasion turned into misery as Larson died at his home in the early morning hours of January 25, 1996.

Larson died of an aortic aneurysm the night before the previews of ‘Rent’ opened. He was only 35 and he suffered from an undiagnosed condition called Marfan’s Syndrome that caused his death. The musical turned out to be an instant hit and the tickets for the first five-week of performances were sold in just 24 hours. The musical production went on to have a 12-year run on Broadway.


It is the 11th longest-running show in Broadway history. Apart from the US, it was also adapted and performed in countries such as Canada, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, China, Philippines, Singapore, Mexico, Germany, and Poland.

After his death, a foundation named Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation was formed by his family and provided monetary grants to artists, especially musical theatre composers and writers, to support their creative work. Also, Larson went on to receive three posthumous Tony Awards and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Drama for ‘Rent’.


His legacy in the theatre world cannot be measured with anything. His writings and music changed the way people looked at Broadway and it’s upsetting that Jonathan didn’t get to see how much impact on young artists and composers.

When is ‘Tick, Tick…Boom’ releasing on Netflix?

The upcoming Netflix musical starring Andrew Garfield in the lead role will be premiering exclusively on November 19.

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