“Green Day’s American Idiot” has been called the “Hair” of “the new generation” and rightly so. It deals with the same issues that happened nearly fifty years ago. There is war, media manipulation and a lost generation trying to find their place in the new world order. It is the story of friendship, loyalty and duty to oneself and to those we love. It is a killer soundtrack of nearly thirty ear ringing numbers that has the audience on its feet at the end. It is in short, the new American anthem.
“American Idiot” tells the tale of three slacker friends; Johnny aka “Jesus of Suburbia” (Jared Nepute), Will (Casey O’Farrell) and Tunny (Dan Tracy) who are surviving day by day in the “suburban wasteland” of Jingletown. The trio meets at the local 7-11 and decides to run off to “the big city” but before they can, Will finds out that his girl friend, Heather, is pregnant and decides to stay behind to take care of her and the baby.
Over the course of the show Will finds that being “the dad” is not what he thought it would be as Heather leaves him. Johnny is desperately alone in the city and falls in love with “a girl in the window”, Whatshername (Olivia Puckett) and in order to deal with the pressures of the city and to give himself the courage to pursue the life he dreamed of conjures up an alter ego heroin user, St. Jimmy (Carson Higgins). In the meantime, Tunny becomes disillusioned by the city life and enlists in the army and is shipped to the Middle East where he loses a leg in combat but is cared for by a nurse, Extraordinary Girl, (Taylor Jones).
In the end, Will realizes his duty to Heather and gets a “real job” that requires habitual bathing, Johnny looses Whatshername to a new rock star boyfriend after Johnny succumbs to the lure of St. Jimmy but soon realizes that this road will only lead to ruin and death so he “kills” St. Jimmy gets clean and returns to Whatshername. Tunny returns from the army hospital with a new artificial leg and new girlfriend, Extraordinary Girl and the three men meet again to argue, fight and then make up after reflecting on their choices, mistakes and influences that brought them all back together. The show ends with the cast on stage with acoustic guitars as the audience stands for a sing along of “Time of Your Life”.
There are many elements that come together to make this a great show. To begin with, the cast is young, energetic and work themselves up to quite a lather. The music is superb and fits well with the story line without being false or contrived. The set consists of a lot of TV screens (we counted 20) that serve to set the scenes with flashes of current events as well as ladders, nooks and crannies and cat walks to perform from. It is also a show that knows its audience and what they want and delivers in spades. The final acoustic number (Time of Your Life) with everyone in the sold out Palace Theatre on their feet and singing along was something to behold. Just like “Hair”, this is more than a show. It is a “Happening” and one that you should experience at least once. It’s hard driving rock and roll with some very tender moments thrown in for balance and covers issues that are relevant to what is happening right now on the streets of our cities.
Prude Alert: It is loud, boisterous and profanity laced which is probably why the kids loved it so much. If you are an unhip oldie who was given a ticket I suggest you give it to a grandchild for them to enjoy. They will thank you profusely. Or better yet, get two tickets and go along for the ride.
Beefs and Flubs: With the tremendous report that the actors maintained with the audience, the small normal mistakes and technical glitches on opening night are easy to gloss over. It was simply a fun show to experience.
Shooting From The Lip (In My Opinion): “American Idiot” is the type of happening that all young people need to experience at some point in their fresh life (and perhaps some of their parents as well). It is fast paced, raucous and wonderfully entertaining with a moral message snuck in as well. If your head is in the right place, I guarantee that you will have the “Time of Your Life”.
The show features such Green Day hits as “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “21 Guns,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Holiday” and the blockbuster title track “American Idiot” from Green Day’s 2004 Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum album. Also included in the score are several songs from Green Day’s 2009 release “21st Century Breakdown,” and an unreleased love song, “When It’s Time.”
“American Idiot” will play a limited, exclusive engagement at the Palace Theatre at PlayhouseSquare through April 27, 2014. Performances are 1:30 and 7:30 PM Saturday and 1:00 and 6:30 PM Sunday. Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased by calling 216.241.6000 or online atwww.playhousesquare.org.
For more information onAMERICAN IDIOT, visit www.americanidiotthemusical.com.