Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Rock Musical Reborn in the USA ; Must See

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Rock Musical Reborn in the USA ; Must See

Article excerpt

Theatre American Idiot Palace Theatre, from MONDAY to SATURDAY November 24 THE audiences trooping in to see the stage musical of Green Day's American Idiot have been a little different from the usual theatre-going crowd.

"For sure, the demographic is younger," says Michael Mayer, the director of American Idiot and the man who, with Billie Joe Armstrong, frontman of American ban Green Day, turned the 2004 punk concept album into a stage show.

"I see lots of green hair, magenta hair, guyliner, lots of leather, torn T-shirts, piercing and tattoos."

There are also parents with kids coming to see the show - the parents raised on Dookie-era Green Day, the kids enthralled by the bleak message of American Idiot.

"The longevity of Green Day is in evidence," says Mayer.

This show is defiantly not in the mould of the jukebox musical, says the director. What Green Day crafted was a bona fide rock opera, like Pete Townshend's Tommy.

And the songs from American Idiot, with the addition of a few songs from the later album, 21st century Breakdown, do indeed tell a story without the need for anything but a bare minimum of linking dialogue.

It's a rock opera for Generation Whatever - the tale of three friends who strive to escape suburbia, but to what? Johnny (played by Alex Nee) heads for the city to find doomed love and heroin addiction, unleashing a darker side of himself in the shape of St Jimmy (Trent Saunders). His friend Tunny (Thomas Hettrick) joins the army, with predictably harrowing consequences, and their friend Will (Casey O'Farrell) remains trapped in suburbia by his girlfriend's pregnancy, dulling his frustration with booze and pot.

Bleak or what?! Thankfully this grim evocation of the "soda pop and Ritalin" generation comes with a soundtrack to die for, all played by a live rock band, on stage among the all-singing, all- dancing actors.

The dramatic possibilities of songs such as Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, American Idiot and Are We The Waiting are obvious. Give Me Novocaine accompanies a stirring war sequence and, best of all, Wake Me Up When September Ends is delivered by a disconsolate Johnny flanked by his two pals in their own personal hells. …

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