For “Tick, Tick… Boom!” choreographer Ryan Heffington, coming up with the steps for “No More” — the musical’s duet between Jonathan (Andrew Garfield) and Michael (Robin de Jesús) — was a collaborative process.
“It was about what felt good on their bodies,” Heffington tells Variety of Garfield and de Jesús, adding that the two are “great movers.”
“No More” comes early in the Lin-Manuel Miranda-directed film, as Jonathan is workshopping his new show “Superbia,” but still hasn’t had a breakthrough. Meanwhile, his best friend Michael, a research executive, is zooming around town in a BMW and has a new apartment with a doorkeeper. Through the song, Michael suggests that it might be time for Jonathan to consider a new career.
“Lin wanted the effect of floaty and moving through space,” explains Heffington. But the seasoned choreographer, who has also worked on “Baby Driver” and “Pose,” says the song’s biggest challenge was the fact that it was sped up — which meant the attention to detail had to be nailed, and everything moved twice as fast.
A lot of the movements were derived from the idea of brotherly love and the notion that the two characters had gone to college together. “The music was inspirational to the piece — there was a nod to headbanging — but it was their relationship that was really inspirational to it all,” Heffington says.
He had done early prep with the actors in 2019, but the pandemic meant production had to stop. When filming resumed, Heffington says he had time to “massage the pieces again.”
The choreographer has high praise for his actors: “They allowed the story to live through movement because they’re so detailed oriented.”
In fact, he would often sit back and watch Garfield and de Jesús rehearse. “I would see where they needed assistance and know what their strong points were,” Heffington says.
Watch a video of Garfield and de Jesús rehearsing “No More” below.