Friday, April 22, 2011

REVIEW: American Idiot (New York)

St. James Theatre (New York), Thursday April 21

I have to admit that I don't know anything about Green Day prior to listening to the cast recording of American Idiot. Based on the recording alone, I was not particularly impressed. But then, musicals are more than just music, so I was hoping to be surprised in catching this show live prior to its closing on April 24. Well, the musical is just about worth its one year run.

This musical of nihilistic angst was worth seeing for its committed cast in communicating the youthful and self-destructive nature of misguided immature men. The power and raw energy that was invested in this 1.5 hour non-stop singing and dancing was palpable. The choreography by Steven Hoggett was right on the mark with the right blend of styles that gave the piece a unique voice. The scenic design by Christine Jones was... boring... and to think that this won her a Tony is mind-boggling.

The cast members were pretty balanced. Van Hughes' Johnny was a remarkable portrayal that begged sympathy. David Larsen' Tunny was effective while Justin Guarini's Will maybe just a tad weak. The highlight of the night was of course Green Day's very own Billie Joe Armstrong doing the role of St. Jimmy... at least based on the crowd's roar. He did a fine job and blended perfectly into the whole ensemble.

In the category of rock musicals (if there is such a thing), American Idiot will be somewhere between the innovative Rent and the kitschy We Will Rock You.


American Idiot
Opened in Broadway on April 20 2010
Lyrics by: Billie Joe Armstrong
Music by: Green Day
Book by: Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer

Creative Team:
Michael Mayer (Direction)
Steven Hoggett (Choreography)
Christine Jones (Scenic Design)
Andrea Lauer (Costume Design)
Kevin Adams (Lighting Design)
Brian Ronan (Sound Design)
Darrel Maloney (Video Design)
Tom Kitt (Music Supervision, Orchestrations, Music Arrangements)

Cast Includes:
Van Hughes (Johnny)
Justin Guarini (Will)
David Larsen (Tunny)
Jeanna de Waal (Heather)
Rebecca Naomi Jones (Whatsername)
Billie Joe Armstrong (St. Jimmy)
Libby Winters (The Extra Ordinary Girl)

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