How could you go wrong with Music by Green Day and the passionate lyrics by Billy Joe Armstrong, a book by Armstrong and Michael Mayer? Old or young, this music has something very memorable. Whether it’s the catchy opening number “America Idiot”, or the patriotic “21 Guns”, or the lonesome ballad “Wake Me Up When September Ends”, and the other hit songs, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” and “Holiday”. Every song will make you think and smile. American Idiot was a critical smash on Broadway, as well as a successful tour in London. American Idiot tells the story of three lifelong friends who are forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. American Idiot is a vibrant, colorful, fiery ride into today’s youth. This is punk-rock opera at its best.
The show burst onto Broadway in 2010, rocking the St. James Theatre for more than a year. In The New York Times, Charles Isherwood wrote “Rage and love, those consuming emotions felt with a particularly acute pang in youth, all but burn up the stage… thrillingly raucous and gorgeously wrought.”
With the success of American Idiot, Green Day has proven their ability to mature as a band over time, without losing sight of where they started. This ability to challenge themselves while preserving their authentic voice has earned them their well-deserved reputation as one of the great rock bands of our time, as evidenced by their induction this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
The production is very creative. There is a two-story type scaffolding set, with a movable cage. It is on wheels and the cast turns it on its side and spins it around with great ease. 12 flat screen TV’s add to the messages within each song. There is mostly singing, except for the main characters diary entrees dates, and some dialog. The genius of Billy Joe Armstrong is very apparent, in each note; all of Green Day’s hits resonate in this amazing musical. I was not fortunate enough to have seen this on Broadway so I have nothing to compare this show to. What I did see was a lot of hard working local young actors, doing their thing. There is memorable singing, fantastic dancing, and heartfelt acting, all of the ingredients that you would need to make this version a successful show. I am now truly a fan.
The set is part red, white and blue, part pop art, and part punk. Lots of 45 records on one wall, as a well as psychedelic posters; The Ramones, and The Misfits. Everything representing what American Idiot stands for, but in a very subtle way. Part Garage band, but with sex drugs and rock n roll ever present. The use of multimedia is at its best. The swinging doors on the upper level allow for very interesting set changes. Images of Bush and Iraq, with wounded soldiers, juxtapose the themes of misspent youth with hard-core war.
The costumes aren’t really costumes, instead what you see on young hipsters in Hollywood. With safety pinned torn jeans, rock band logo’s on t-shirts, grunge and punk were never so well represented. Even down to “Whatsernames” heart shaped grenade logo tattoo on her thigh.
The very talented cast is lead by Jess Ford who plays the tormented Johnny, and was very reminiscent of Billy Joe’s voice, but with his own angst. Cast Members: Chris Kerrigan, Will – Wesley Moran, Heather – Jackee Bianchi, Whatsername – Renee Cohen, Extraordinary Girl – Cassandra Nuss, St. Jimmy – Andrew Diego, Joshua/Johnny Understudy – Blair Grotbeck, Chase/Will Understudy – Kevin Corsini, Heather Understudy – Lauren Tyni, Leslie/Whatsername Understudy – Brittany Rodin, Extraordinary Girl Understudy – Nohely Quiroz, Miguel/St. Jimmy Understudy |- Tony Cellucci, Gerard – Alex Allen, Alysha – Sandra Diana Cantu, Theo – Everjohn Feliciano, Anna – Angeline Mirenda, Margaret – Lilian Manasala, Declan – Johnny Ortiz, Ben Michael Restaino, Michelle – Marni Stone, Libby Dekontee Tucrkile, Andrew – Ty West, Brian – Anthony D. Willis. The cast comes out into the audience but there is no real audience participation but you can tell that each cast member has his or her own individual gifts.
The creative team is really doing their job. Under the direction of Marco Gomez, American Idiot is a non-stop action thrill adventure; you are riveted to your chairs with each new move. Musical Director, Chris Raymond delivers nuances of these wonderful songs and equally fantastic singers. There is nice harmonizing with a 5-piece band leading the way. Choreographer, Angela Todard gives this show a modern day rebellious spin of past shows like West Side Story, Grease, and Rocky Horror Picture Show. Steps that are edgy, blue collar, with robotic hip-hop. Angela makes it all look very easy, as well as the dancers really being on their marks.
The DOMA design team brings back set designer John Iacovelli, lighting and projection designer Jean-Yves Tessier, sound designer Julie Ferrin, costume designer Michael Mullen, makeup designer Jessica Kuhns and props designer Hallie Baran. The production manager/assistant director is Gabrieal Griego, the stage manager is Laura Forst, and Marco Gomez, Dolf Ramos and Chris Raymond produce. This production is sponsored in part by AOLifestyle.com.
A while back I saw the show “Nine” at The Met Theater, they managed to pull off one heck of a show, with their creative team executing outstanding vision. I think The Doma Theater Company has a really good handle of what live theater should be. They take these big Broadway productions and assembly them into a smaller space with much success. I don’t think I have ever seen a bad review.
Green Day’s American Idiot was just extended, with added performances through August 2, 2015. There is really nothing left to say except, run don’t walk and get whatever tickets are left, this is Los Angeles theater at it’s best!
Green Day’s American Idiot, The Musical
The MET Theater – Doma Theater Company
1089 N. Oxford Ave, Los Angeles.