“American Idiot” has brought their angsty and energetic show to the San Diego Civic theatre through Sunday, June 2nd. “American Idiot” follows the story of three friends as they try to make sense of themselves and their lives as they navigate a media saturated post 9-11 America.
The show opens with the three friends who are filled with the rage, aimlessness and the need for drama that only youth can generate. With plans to leave home for a better life their plans quickly go sideways. Will stays home because his girlfriend is pregnant, Johnny succumbs to the lure of heroin, and Tunny joins the military.
High energy from the start this show is a constantly moving mosaic of people, props and dancing. As a group the choreography is a blend of punk Broadway, modern and athleticism. The cast utilizes the stage entirely as they climb and jump and appear in all over the stage. The smaller, more individual dances are beautiful and interesting, allowing performers to highlight the story and their flexibility as storytellers.
The band is on stage with the cast and they are dynamics performers who blend well onstage with the rest of the anarchistic crew onstage. The music director Evan Jay Newman, was as hard-edged, attitude filled and talented as cast and was as dynamic to watch as everyone else on stage. The cast is strong, with standout performances from Alyssa DiPalma as Whatshername and Trent Saunders as St. Jimmy.
Yet with all these positives, the score ends up being much better than the story. The music is a more Broadway musicalized version of Green Day’s “American Idiot” and additional Green Day song’s from other albums. The music is compelling, driving and captivating. The plot is full of opportunity to tell captivating and complex stories of disaffected youth who are at that crucial point in their lives where every option, path and possibility is open to them; but don’t yet realize the choices may not come along again. But like its characters, the plot is undeveloped, immature and too confused to know which way to go. As a symptom of the media saturated, reality tv driven world they were raised in, they are under the misguided assumption that their lives are supposed to mean more than what it does. They are staging a rebellion against their perfectly normal lives. It’s a protest musical that never really has a protest.
This cast is perfect for this story. Many are just out of school and this is their chance, just like their characters, to make a name for themselves. This is just the start of their adventure. Yet, I did hear quite a few people note that this cast was a non-union cast. Personally, I feel it is more important they are young, energetic, talented, and driven. If people keep diminishing their talent based on whether they pay union dues or not, maybe they have something to protest after all.
“American Idiot” is playing at the San Diego Civic Theatre until Sunday, June 2nd. For show times and ticket information go to www.Broadwaysd.com. This show is for mature audiences, with strong language and adult situations.
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