“Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
“Macbeth” Act 5, Scene 5
The Broadway show “American Idiot” attempts to capture the essence of Macbeth’s famous soliloquy. In a post 9/11 society, life in America may seem futile to young adults who have dreams. Unfortunately, the two-time Tony Award winning musical comes across as “sound and fury,” and the show signifies nothing.
This was the first performance of ‘American Idiot” in Toledo; it may be its last.
Performed at 3 and 7:30 p.m. on March 2 at the Stranahan Theater, the 3 p.m. show had about a third of the seats empty. Even worse, some people left the theater before the final song, ironically called “Good Riddance.”
SUNDAY AFTERNOON ENTERTAINMENT?
It is easy to understand why the Toledo area audience was scarce. The show is billed for “mature audiences” so this may have scared away people looking for family-friendly entertainment on a Sunday afternoon. The “mature audience” label is necessary for a number of reasons. First, the show uses more “F-bombs” and cursing than the drill sergeant in the movie “Full Metal Jacket.” Also, in one scene, characters Johnny and Whatshername grind on each other under blankets in a simulated sex act. Finally, many of the characters smoke bongs and inject drugs throughout much of the show. Obviously, the show is meant for adults.
FLAWS IN THE SHOW
The show itself also falls apart on a number of other fronts. The set itself was innovative; however, the over use of strobes blinded audience members. Also, the sound quality was poor during the ensemble songs. Roaring guitar riffs and thumping drums often made the ensemble songs unintelligible. Again, there was a lot of sound and fury, but it meant nothing due to poor sound engineering. Finally, the plot of the show was nonexistent and the characters are not developed. The three main characters (Johnny, Will and Tunny) struggle to find themselves in a post 9/11 world. Each takes a different path to adulthood, which results in a three subplots happening throughout the show. The result seemed to be a bunch of loosely woven scenes put together to fit the Green Day lyrics. Unfortunately, the story is unsatisfying because the audience never cares about the characters.
ONE BRIGHT SPOT
The one bright spot of “American Idiot” is the music. Based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album, the story was told through the lyrics of Billy Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of Green Day. The solo performances soar above everything else in this show. Jared Nepute (Johnny) has an excellent voice as he demonstrated on songs like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
Upcoming performances of the show include Fort Wayne, IN on April 22 at the Embassy Theatre and in Cleveland, OH on April 25-27, 2014 at the Palace Theatre. (See the "American Idiot" website for further dates.) However, a better choice would be to use your money to purchase Green Day’s “American Idiot” CD or any other Green Day CD. This show deserves three stars out of five only because of the Green Day songs. Instead of purchasing tickets to the musical, listen to the actual songs performed by the real artists.
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