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'American Idiot' a Broadway class punk rock opera

Daniel C. Jackson (St. Jimmy), Olivia Puckett (Whatsername), Jared Nepute (Johnny) and the company of AMERICAN IDIOT.
Daniel C. Jackson (St. Jimmy), Olivia Puckett (Whatsername), Jared Nepute (Johnny) and the company of AMERICAN IDIOT.Photo by Jeremy Daniel

"American Idiot" produced at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

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American Idiot, the punk rock musical based on Green Days smash album of the same name played Saturday January 11 and Sunday January 12 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. Billie Joe Armstrong, of Green Day, wrote the lyrics, the music is by Green Day, and the book is by Armstrong and Director Michael Mayer.

The show centers on Will, Johnny, and Tunny, three teens living in boring, safe suburbia in the post 9/11 era. The three decide to escape the mundane existence to the city, where they can experience a less protected life. Will decides not to go when his girlfriend, Heather, breaks the news to him that she is pregnant. The play follows the life of Will, who stays at home to raise a family, Tunny who eventually joins the military and goes to war, and Johnny who falls for a girl in the window and turns to drugs and an alter ego character that he calls St. Jimmy.

From the opening number, American Idiot, to the finale the production is an exhilarating adventure of song and dance. Holly Gaddy, who attended with her 12 year-old son Ethan, could only describe the show as, “incredible.”

Dan Tracy who plays Tunny and Casey O’Farrell who stars as Will both have fine voices, but their roles relinquish their characters to supporting Jared Nepute who performs as Johnny. Neptune has a powerful and outstanding voice and delivers an incredible performance.

Mariah MacFarlane plays Heather, the pregnant girlfriend of Will and Olivia Puckett is Whatsername. Both women have marvelous voices that leaves me wishing their supporting roles had allowed more solo performances by the two.

St. Jimmy, played by Daniel C. Jackson, is the character that allows Johnny to turn to drugs and drink, to survive in the city. Jackson is fantastic in the supporting role, with exciting energy and a superb voice he would be a fabulous headliner for any show.

Choreographer Steven Hoggett has designed numbers that are fascinating to watch and flow perfectly with the story line. This is very evident early in the play when several performers move the bed in the center of the stage and one of the performers is sitting atop it, pretending to steer as if it was a racecar.

Unfortunately, the Theater League of Kansas City production of American Idiot has closed. If Kansas City audiences are given another opportunity to see this world class show they would do well to attend a performance as this is undoubtedly one of the best productions in the Kansas City theatrical season.