American Idiot – Theater Review
American Idiot follows the exhilarating journey of a new generation of young Americans as they struggle to find meaning in a post 9/11 world, borne along by Green Day’s electrifying score. This high-octane show includes every song from the acclaimed album American Idiot, as well as several songs from the band’s Grammy-nominated new release, 21st Century Breakdown. Green Day won two Grammy Awards for the groundbreaking rock opera American Idiot, which sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. Now Billie Joe Armstrong and the band collaborate with one of the theatre’s most acclaimed creative teams, led by the Tony Award-winning director of Spring Awakening, Michael Mayer, two-time Tony Award-winning composer and orchestrator Tom Kitt, and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett, to bring this explosive, iconic album to the stage.
American Idiot is based on the songs of Green Day, which is a punk rock group out of Berkeley, and their most famous album is American Idiot. The show boasts a great cast including John Gallagher Jr. who won a Tony for Spring Awakening. And to a certain extent, this is kind of Spring Awakening 2010. First of all, the set is fabulous. I mean, it’s unbelievable. There’s something like 36 different TV monitors, and it uses the entire three-story stage, and things open and close, and the stage floor comes up and down. There is a cast of nearly 20-plus musicians that are on stage the whole time, and its rock its fun. For the first couple of minutes I thought I needed earplugs, and the first several songs, Including Jesus of Suburbia, City of the Damned, I Don’t Care, Dearly Beloved, all sound exactly the same and the words are very hard to understand, and I thought the cast is very energetic and it’s kind of fun, but it’s going to be a long hour and a half. But then, the songs kind of smoothed out and the plot kind of fills out. All the costumes are amazing, the energy is electric. The leads all have great voices. In fact, everybody has a great voice. We really do get a story of three friends who decide to go off and become a band, and one’s girlfriend gets pregnant, so he has to stay behind, and then there were two, and then one ends up joining the army, and then there’s one, and the one that’s left ends up becoming a drug user. To a certain extent it makes you feel really sad about the generation it portrays and that they’re lost souls with really no sense of inspiration and no sense of direction, and the songs really do reflect that, and at the end there is some sense of fellowship and fun. I think to a certain extent how much you enjoy this is going to depend on how much tolerance and how much enjoyment you have for punk rock. To be quite honest, I knew about four of the songs or recognized about four of the songs, including Wake Me Up When September Ends, which is probably one of the more accessible songs, and these are the best of times, which isn’t really from them; It’s one of their covers, but I will be very honest with you, I enjoyed it and I thought it was great fun, and I got the real sort of benefit of a lifetime in that Green Day was actually in the audience, and came up and did three songs as an encore, and the audience went wild, and it was really fun to see them, and most fun of all was the cast just going wild and taking pictures on their iPhones of the band, and they were clearly so pleased to have their idols there that they hardly knew what to do. So, I gave the play itself probably three and a half stars, but the experience was five. So, you probably are not going to have Green Day there when you go, but if you like their songs and you like a lot of energy — it is kind of this generation’s Hair to a certain extent. Music isn’t quite as accessible and probably wont last quite as long, although a couple of the songs may, but this is a three and a half to four star experience, and if you’re younger it probably will be a five star experience.