Theaters may still be closed, but Lin-Manuel Miranda has been working harder than ever. Thursday saw not only the release of the film adaptation of In the Heights, but also the first trailer for the Hamilton creator’s feature film debut, Tick, Tick... Boom!. Based on the play by Jonathan Larson, the late playwright behind Rent, and adapted by Steven Levenson of Dear Evan Hansen, the musical premieres on Netflix and hits select theaters this fall.
It takes all but five seconds into the new trailer for the film’s star, Andrew Garfield, to burst into song. The year is 1990, and Garfield is Jon, an aspiring composer doing his best to make it in New York City while waiting tables, stressing about pushing 30, and falling behind on his bills. (In case you couldn’t tell by the character’s full name, Jonathan Larson, yes, the story is semi-autobiographical.) “Lately, I’ve been hearing this sound—like a tick, tick, tick,” Jon says in a voiceover. “Like a time bomb. The fuse has been lit. The clock counts down the seconds. The flame gets closer and closer and closer, until all at once, everything explodes.”
Jon is hardly the only one struggling. So is his friend Michael, who’s given up on pursuing anything beyond a paycheck. (He’s played by Robin de Jesús, who won a Tony Award for his role in a 2008 Broadway production of In the Heights.) Jon’s girlfriend Susan (Love, Simon star Alexandra Shipp) can relate, too, which only adds to his stress in the lead-up to the make-or-break performance of what he’s hoping will revolutionize not only his own life, but also overall musical theater. Meanwhile, other friends are dying of AIDS.
Luckily, Jon—meaning Garfield—really can sing. So can his costar Vanessa Hudgens, whose role as Jon’s costar Karessa marks her second Larson project in three years, after leading up Rent: Live in 2019, and third overall. At this point, the former musical theater kid may have atoned for taking until her early twenties to learn of both the playwright and hit musical’s existence.