Monday, May 24, 2010

American Idiot

When I first heard that there was a musical coming to Broadway that featured nothing but Green Day music, I called a good friend of mine, who I knew loved Green Day let her know we were going to have to plan a trip to New York. Then, after reading THIS review of the show, while it was still at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, I knew I had to see it when it came to Broadway.

American Idiot is based on the album of the same name by the band Green Day. I, myself, have never been a huge Green Day fan, although I liked several of their songs. Back in 2003, when most of the country was frustrated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many people were fed up with the running of our country, Green Day released their album American Idiot.
The album was a musical statement for the group, and many others, that spoke to their frustrations. It went on to win numerous awards, along with becoming a fan favorite.

The members of Green Day state that the album was written as a rock opera in the first place, so Broadway was the next step. They took the songs from American Idiot, along with some songs from their album 21st Century Breakdown and wrote the musical with help from Michael Mayer (of Spring Awakening fame).

The result is exactly what you would expect: A rock concert with a storyline.

There is no intermission in this 90 minute show, but you don't feel the need for one. From start to finish, there is very little dialogue, but the music and acting do a fair job of getting the point across anyway.

The choreography is shaky at times, but I got the distinct impression that it was supposed to be that way. And like the lack of dialogue, the choreography worked well for the production. It has a very similar feel to the choreography of Spring Awakening.

Sadly, Mary Faber, who played the role of Heather, was out the evening I saw the show. Libby Winters, her understudy, did a fantastic job filling her role. But that change kept me from seeing the complete Original Broadway Cast. Sigh.

Usually when I see a show, I can pick out one or two actors who seem to "steal the show." With American Idiot, the entire case is so talented that I can't single anyone out. Sure, there were the names that I knew already going in, like John Gallagher, Jr. and Rebecca Naomi Jones. And there were the people who had some great scenes and performances overall. But each and every person in the cast, including the ensemble members, was incredibly talented.

To prove that they don't just sing, act, and dance, at the final curtain call the entire cast picks up their guitars and they perform "Time of Your Life". This is one of my favorite Green Day songs ever and was the perfect ending to the show. Although I didn't take this myself, I've posted a video of it below. Check it out and you'll see what I mean. Sadly, "Time of Your Life" isn't on the cast recording. (Hey, if anyone important actually reads this... YOU NEED TO RECORD THAT AND RELEASE IT AS A SINGLE!)

Now I should note that I am a conservative person both by nature and politically. Some people might think that this show, the band, and the music would go against my conservative personality. But I have to say, I lived through this time in history (recent history, but still history) and was around the same age as the characters at the time this show would have taken place. I may not always agree, but I understand. I have had friends deal with drug addiction, unplanned pregnancy, and have had former high school classmates injured in war. I've seen people leave home trying to find themselves (heck, I did it too) only to come back home to the people that were there in the beginning. This show is for our generation. It portrays the lives many of us have led and are still leading.

My advice: if you get a chance to see American Idiot, DO IT.

Also, hang out afterwards. Nearly every member of the cast came out to sign autographs and pose for pictures.


Adriana said...

I saw American Idiot the first week it was out back in April. My boyfriend and his brother are big fans of Green Day and were so excited to see it. I agree with everything you say in this post. It was a fun Broadway show. Members of the band were there the night we saw it. The whole audience gave them a standing-o.

k2 said...

LOVE Green Day and I really want to see the play.
Thanks for a great review!!!!

Karen said...

Sounds exactly like how I felt when I saw Rent. Right down to the disappointment that the actor who played Roger was out. His understudy was awesome, but I can never say I saw the complete original Broadway cast. :(

Cherise said...

Promise you won't laugh...I have never saw a play on broadway before. I really want too! I am glad you enjoyed the show.

Cara said...

Cherise, I won't laugh! But you should come to NY sometime when I'm there! Allison always plans a fantastic meet up and you could go see a show! :)

Martin Wood said...

Great review! I was in the city the first weekend in May for the Five Boro Bike Tour, and saw American Idiot while I was there. I love Green Day, so it was everything I had hoped it would be! I especially liked that the management wasn't all stiff about taking drinks into the show with you. That was, dare I say, refreshing!