In “Louder than Words” clip, Dallas arts students sing about Jonathan Larson’s legacy – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth


Jonathan Larson died in 1996, years before today’s high school kids were born. To commemorate the premiere of Larson’s tick, tick… BOOM! on Netflix, students at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, as well as arts students from across the country, honored the legacy of the Tony Award-winning composer by singing his work in a music video for “Louder than Words”. “

The musical drama, tick, tick… BOOM!, is Larson’s autobiographical musical. A few days before his 30th birthday, Jon prepares for a decisive workshop on a musical that he has been developing for years.

While he hopes this will be his defining moment, his girlfriend plans to pursue an artistic opportunity outside of New York City, and his closest friend has chosen financial security over a career in the arts.


Andrew Garfield plays Jonathan Larson in tick, tick … BOOM! The film premiered in November on Netflix.

The music refers to Stephen Sondheim’s influence on Larson and Sondheim’s mentorship on the young composer. “Louder than Words” is the iconic ballad of the musical which sums up the intrigues of the characters in the series.

Larson died at the age of 35 the day before the Broadway premiere of his masterpiece, To rent. The show premiered on Broadway in 1996, winning three Tony Awards posthumously to Larson and a Pulitzer Prize posthumously.

The new Netflix movie tick, tick… Boom! is Hamilton the first feature film from creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“I started out in my school’s performing arts program. These programs are vital, not only for the entertainment industry, but also for our culture. It is important for us to celebrate the next generation of actors, singers and performers. So, in the spirit of reaching for the stars and chasing your dreams, we’ve invited schools across the country to celebrate the start of tick, tick … BOOM! on Netflix, ”Miranda said in an introduction to the clip.

Preston Rossi, Ellie Sassano and Aiden Valentine are the three Dallas High School students featured in the video. Valentine is the first performer to sing in the video. Students from the Baltimore School of the Arts, Chicago School of the Arts, Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, and TADA! The Youth Theater in New York also participated in the video.

When the project started, Rossi, Sassano and Valentine did not know tick, tick… BOOM!

“It was exciting for me to bridge that generation gap and introduce Jonathan to them,” said Benjamin Doan-Stevens, production coordinator for Dallas High School in the Dallas Arts District.

For a few weeks, students rehearsed with sheet music, working on the piece during or after the school day. They filmed their contribution to the clip on stage at the school’s Montgomery Arts Theater.

“We spent most of the rehearsal time on the music because it’s quite difficult. The three students are really good natural actors, so we let them feel it, ”Doan-Stevens said. “We let them play like themselves. “

Four participating public high schools and a non-profit youth theater helped create the music video.

While working on the song, certain phrases resonated. The main theme, “actions speak louder than words” stayed with Valentine. “I feel like it really spoke to me. You can have a lot of friends, ”said Valentine. “But no matter what they say, it’s always what they do that shows what kind of person they are.”

“Cages or wings, which do you prefer? Ask the birds, ”Doan-Stevens recalls of the school’s mascot, the Pegasus. “It touches on who we are as a school,” Doan-Stevens said.

“Fear or love, baby?” Don’t say the answer ”is a rhetorical question. “They already know the answer. You don’t even have to say it because it’s love. Always, ”said Rossi.

“Why does it take an accident for the truth to come to us” reflects the dangers of inaction. “We have a lot of political activation on social media, but sometimes it takes a really big event before anything can really start, before people really think, ‘Oh, this is really a problem. “Even though they’ve seen all the messages and have all of this information, it doesn’t really click until they really see it happening to them or someone they know,” Sassano said.

The students and Doan-Stevens were impressed with the final cut of the clip. “I thought it was really cool to see how Netflix included all these different art schools across America and how the schools put their ideas into the video where you had us standing on a stage. empty with spotlights and lights of different colors, but you had another school that made a whole movie scene with posters, ”said Valentine.

“I expected it to be awkward, but I had the impression that the transition went very well and especially the contrast between us and the other schools, then all the schools together. It really worked, ”Rossi said.

“The mixing of vocals went really well where you had to go from solo to solo in weird sections. It was really well balanced, ”said Sassano.

The clip includes footage from the film. The students appear to be singing along with Andrew Garfield as he plays Jon in the film. “I thought it was well done,” Doan-Stevens said.

tick, tick … BOOM! is Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical.

For the three juniors interested in pursuing a career in musical theater, the musical comes at a time when they are considering their future. “It’s quite interesting to see someone go through what we’re working on in our life, the struggles we might face along the way,” Sassano said. “It was a really good preview of what it could really be like. It’s not all glitz and glamor.

With Sondheim’s recent death, the film serves as a reminder of the importance of mentoring in a tough industry. “With the passing of Stephen Sondheim and simply knowing that without Stephen reaching out to the younger generation, we would not have To rent“said Doan-Stevens.

Twenty-five years after his death, Larson delivers a message to the next generation of artists. “It says to our generation, ‘Hey, you’ve got the ability to do something. You have the resources, you have social media, you have all of these things, so now is your time, ”Sassano said. “I think that brings us to the scene.

“I think every generation needs to hear that call,” Rossi said.


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