San Diego, CA—One of my daughters and I were discussing “Green Day’s American Idiot” after I saw the production currently playing at the Civic Theatre Downtown through June 2nd as part of the Broadway San Diego series. Several years ago while visiting friends in New York she went to see the show on Broadway and hasn’t stopped raving about it since.
Great, I thought. Now I can see what she was so enthusiastic about.
After several repeated conversations about the show, and she could see that my reaction was a whole lot less receptive than hers, she thought she had to explain it to me. ‘When the show was written in 2009, post 9/11 these kids all from the ‘burbs’ didn’t feel connected; didn’t trust adults most especially George Bush and his blather of words about the war in Iraq’. I got that from the images on the fifty or so TV’s on the wall as the show opened.
They feel alienated she continued, left out, don’t know who to trust and on and on and on. (“I don’t care if you don’t care”.) The choices that they see in front of them are either go to war, get high or stay home and become couch potatoes. They are cynical and angry yet anxious to do something but don’t know what. It seems I’ve heard that song before.
They are also bored by the technology on which they were raised and the word responsibility isn’t in their vision. More rebels without a cause. I got that too, but I couldn’t muster up the fervor she did. A difference of opinion goes a long way.
“American Idiot” the punk rock opera that apparently took America by storm in 2010 by being nominated for a Tony in the Best Musical Award category and was a Grammy Award winner for best Musical Show Album featuring the music of Green Day with lyrics by its lead singer Billy Joel Armstrong might just appeal to a different mind set than mine.
The book by Armstrong and Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening”) is the weakest link in this heavily hyped punk opera, which begins and ends pretty much in the same place geographically and features characters that have no core. After letting us in on his dissatisfaction with just about everything, Johnny (John Krause) leaves to find himself and what he finds is messier than what he left behind.
His friend Will (Casey O’Farrell) stays home and vegetates. He drinks too much and almost looses it when girlfriend Heather (Kennedy Caughell) gets pregnant. Tunny (Thomas Hettrick) glorifies war, goes off to war and loses a leg, but finds a bride and Johnnie and his new girlfriend, Whatshername (Alyssa DiPalma) become addicts and hover close to disaster thanks to his shadow and drug dealer St. Jimmy (Trent Saunders).
There might be some light at the end of their rainbow when the journey is over though. Let’s hope.
The entire rock opera is sung to the deafening Armstrong tunes. A huge cast outside the orchestra all play acoustic guitar, have vast amounts of energy and are physically fit. An eight-piece band on stage, orchestrated by Tom Kitt, while outrageously loud, is terribly exciting to watch. The large ensemble is well disciplined especially when dancing. There are a few ballads that I did enjoy: “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, “Wake Me Up When September Comes” “21 Guns” and “Time of Your Life”.
But if you are noise sensitive, don’t care to be blinded by light glaring back at you from the stage, are turned off by everyone clutching at their crotch, giving you the finger or throwing the ‘f’ bomb, this might not be your cup of tea.
If none of it bothers you then go for it there are still a few performances left.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through June 2nd
Organization: Broadway San Diego
Where: 3rd and B Street, Downtown San Diego, 92103
Ticket Prices: visit broadwaysd.com/American-idiot.htm
Venue: Civic Theatre