AMERICAN IDIOT - KNOCKOUT MUSICAL BURSTS WITH PASSION!

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Guest Journalist: Julia Rytell

NOT only fans of the band Green Day will love this show!  It is a compact and artfully staged musical, showcasing the talents of some amazing young rising stars along with live music from a 6-piece band (and the cast members at times as well). Visual vitality and meaning is added to the music with this interpretation; a true musical, for very little is said, most is sung.

Director Michael Mayer’s script for Green Day’s American Idiot music, with lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong, introduces three young male characters who leave the suburbs for city life to fall into different paths.  Johnny (Van Hughes), electrifies the stage with his frustrations, vices, and confused emotion. He has the most presence and energy of the three; constantly in motion. Will (Jake Epstein) sinks into torpor on the couch for most of the production with a bottle for comfort, unwilling to deal with his girlfriend’s pregnancy, rising from time to time to unleash a sorrowful but glorious voice. Tunny (Scott Campbell) takes another route and joins the military, losing a limb in the service, which brings us a hospital scene with a moving, very sweetly sung and cutely executed soldiers’ quartet, followed by a dreamy morphine-induced aerial dance with the Extraordinary Girl.

’21 Guns’ and of course the title track do fill the theatre, along with other GD faves. The song “Wake me Up When September Ends” is accompanied by projections of sheets of paper falling upward, all around the walls of the stage - a reference to 9/11, simple, yet hauntingly effective.

Numerous video screens are stationed throughout the set, used to create timeline and imagery effect: the space used to full advantage with several levels, raw dark metal and mobile props making the vitality of the surroundings match the performers.  The female actors have less prominent roles in general, but Gabrielle McClinton as Johnny’s girlfriend stands out as a strong singer and dancer.

Over all, this is a gritty musical of the 90’s generation - the hope and the despair, the anger and the love, the impetus and the ennui swirling together.  The whole cast sang and handled guitars for the encore - Green Day’s ‘Hope You Had the Time of Your Life’, and we did!

A rough-rocking good time with a poignant touch!