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American Idiot comes to the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts

The cast of American Idiot.
The cast of American Idiot.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Based on punk rock band Green Day’s award winning album American Idiot, the musical opens on Saturday January 11 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The show opened on Broadway on April 20, 2010 and ran for 422 performances. Vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day appeared occasionally as St. Jimmy (Melissa Etheridge played the part of St. Jimmy for five days in February of 2011) throughout the Broadway run. Armstrong wrote the lyrics and with director Michael Mayer the book.

In 2010, American Idiot won two Tony Awards, Best Scenic Design of a Musical and Best Lighting Design of a Musical. The production received a nomination for Best Musical from the Tony Awards and Outstanding New Broadway Musical from the Outer Critics Circle Award. Superb lighting design by Kevin Adams garnered the show the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Lighting Design (Play or Musical). The play won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical, Michael Mayer, and received nominations for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical and Outstanding Orchestrations. In 2011, the musical received the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

The Broadway and London hit tells the story of three friends from suburbia living in a post 9/11 world. Two of the three, Johnny and Tunny, escape the safe yet bleak existence of suburban life, pursuing an unrestricted life in the big city. The third member, Will, remains at home with his parents and pregnant girlfriend.

Tunny is unable to adapt to the independent city life and joins the military, joining the war effort and fighting for his country. Frustrated with life in general Johnny creates St. Jimmy, the drug-dealing and using character that gives Johnny the confidence to make a move on the girl he has been fantasying over, since seeing her in a window. The show is recommended for mature audiences.

The musical includes songs for the Green Day album American Idiot, including the title song. The cast includes Jared Nepute as Johnny, Dan Tracy as Tunny, Casey O’Farrell, Olivia Puckett as Whatsername, and Daniel C. Jackson as St. Jimmy. Topeka native, Stacy Myers, is the company manager and is a founding member of Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble, a grassroots theater company.

American Idiot runs Saturday January 11 and two performances, 1 and 6:30 p.m., on Sunday January 12 at the Kauffman Center. Purchase tickets on the Theater League website or contact the Kauffman Center box office at 816-994-7222.

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