The national tour of Green Day’s American Idiot opened Jan. 11 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City to an enthusiastic crowd that nearly filled the Muriel Kauffman Theater, and FYI, gray hair was extremely sparse in the audience.
Rightly so, the newest form of rage and angst came to Kansas City from Broadway to celebrate a year in the life of the current troubled young souls who quest for something different and better. Remember the shock of Hair, the first rock opera to openly challenge the establishment with strong language, sexual situations, strong language, radical music, young people railing against war and society? Well, the newest version comes a calling now in American Idiot.
Like other young-themed rock operas, similar to Tommy, Rent, Hair, and others, Green Day’s American Idiot offers a younger generation’s take on the world and the ways to overcome society’s demons. The show is like watching a Martin Scorsese version of Hair. It’s like Hair on heroin.
Not to say the show is bad or does not have theatrical value, it does. American Idiot entertains the audience and brings a ton of the band Green Day’s followers to the theater in droves. The music definitely drives the show and action. Green Day’s American Idiot features a score derived from the band’s songbook. In similar fashion, Abba’s music was spun into a story and voila, Mamma Mia. In this case, the angst and edge of Green Day comes alive in American Idiot.
Those who absolutely love Green Day’s music will absolutely love American Idiot. Even those unfamiliar with the music will find an entertaining story and some good music. Hard rock, alternative rock, and emotional ballads create the backdrop for the show.
The story, strong enough to stand up to the music, concerns three young men and their life pathways. One does nothing; one becomes a drug addict; and, one joins the armed services. Their three stories intertwine and give cohesion to American Idiot.
The show runs about 90 minutes without an intermission, and features a plethora of outstanding voices. Both the men and women in the cast could carry any show on Broadway. To give special credit would do disservice to the others. What a terrific ensemble of singing actors!
Leads in the show possessed and displayed great singing and dancing, but, so did the entire ensemble. Listed as the leads and well deserving of credit are: Jared Nepute, Dan Tracy, Casey O’Farrell, Olivia Puckett, Taylor Jones, Mariah Mac Farlane, and Daniel C. Jackson. The talented ensemble included Alex Boniello, Liam Fennechen, Sean Garner, Francesca Granell, Antwaun Holley, Andrew Humann, Alison Morooney, Johnny Newcomb, Michael Pilato, Eric Presnall, Turner Rouse, Jr. Josephine Spada, and Chelsea Turbin.
American Idiot comes from the music of Green Day with lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong. The book comes from Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer. Mayer also directs the shows.
For tickets, check the website: theaterleague.com/kansascity/american-idiot/