AMERICAN IDIOT, BROADWAY PLAY BASED ON GREEN DAY'S MUSIC, IN FINAL HOMECOMING WEEK
Bay Area rock band, GREEN DAY, has made their mark with songs that combine hard driving, stripped down, post-punk sounds with songs that have pop sensibilities. They've had many hits. Mostly drawn from the music of their 2004 release, American Idiot, lyricist and lead singer / guitarist Billy Joe Armstong and Michael Mayerset created the story for the play that shares it's title.
American Idiot premiered at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in September 2009 and played through November of that year. In April 2010, the musical opened on Broadway, where reviews were unanimously positive. Charles Isherwood of the New York Times calling the show “the most adventurous musical to brave Broadway in the past decade." Now through July 8th, you can catch it at The SHN Orpheum Theater in San Francisco.
I went on Friday night, and it was quite a ride. The songs are performed to high intensity by an energetic cast and musicians. The band is on stage with the 16 actors, and the music propels the action for the 90 minute show, with no intermission. There is a trio of actors at the core, who play three friends from Suburbia who follow three different paths in the context of the generation of younger adults coming of age in a Post 911, 21st Century world.
The song "American Idiot" begins the show, with images of 2004 flashed on no less than 37 screens hunk on graffiti stressed walls in the back drop. "Wake Me Up When September Ends," which Billy Joe Armstrong wrote about George W. Bush's original assertion of a short war in Iraq, is part of the political statement of American Idiot, but it's far from the dominant theme of the play. The journey of the players moves through the times, the quest for self discovery and intimacy. Without singling any individual actors out, they include a deliciously sardonic drug dealer who draws the main character of the trio into Heroin addiction. The fast moving choreography and young, athletic talent (fairly evenly divided between men and women in the diverse cast) bring a deeper dimension to the twists of life in Billy Joe Armstrong's lyrics. There isn't much dialog, and most of it is delivered in diary and letter style.
American Idiot is a very enjoyable live theater experience. Dynamically staged and performed. A 21st Century Hair in the disaffection with war and reflections on society. Last show on this run in San Francisco is Sunday, July 8th.