Michael Mayer has a knack for making us remember some of our worst memories. In Spring Awakening, he helped us recall our yearning teenage years. Now in American Idiot, he reminds us of the uncertain and melancholy times that followed 9/11. Mayer’s marriage of visionary theatrical direction and Green Day’s passionate music make for a haunting and indelible production.
It’s hard to believe the last show that played the St. James Theatre before American Idiot was Finian’s Rainbow. Although a stellar production, it couldn’t be a further cry in style and tone from this musical by Green Day. That’s just the point—everything is a far cry from this production. American Idiot adds a new layer onto the ever-growing popular genre of rock musicals. This is a punk rock opera.
Simple in story to allow for even greater conceptual depth, American Idiot follows three greatly unsatisfied suburban youths who flee their hometown for a less-restrained life in the city. But the three friends’ plans quickly fall apart. Will (Michael Esper) remains at home because his girlfriend is pregnant, Tunny (Stark Sands) joins the army and is deployed to Iraq, and Johnny (John Gallagher Jr.) becomes swept up in a whirlwind of drugs. The three men’s downfalls are spurred by political disillusion, media saturation, and lack of faith in society’s day-to-day rituals.
***VIDEO after the jump: Green Day makes a surprise appearance and performs at the April 22 performance. Here, they perform their classic hit “Basket Case.”*** Read more