Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

“American Idiot” Offers Viewers a Unique Theatre Experience

The Boston Globe called "American Idiot" "flat-out electrifying." (photo by Jeremy Daniel)

The Boston Globe called “American Idiot” “flat-out electrifying.” (photo by Jeremy Daniel)

Anyone who has listened to Green Day’s smash-hit concept album American Idiot knows that there’s a story lurking underneath the surface of the sometimes-angsty, sometimes-poignant lyrics. In “American Idiot,” the stage musical adaptation of the album, which just completed its short two-day run at DPAC, that story is expanded on in the form of three young characters. There’s Johnny (Jared Nepute), Tunny (Dan Tracy), and Will (Casey O’Farrell), three twenty-somethings on a journey to find themselves in a society they view as media-saturated and depressing.

Played out through hit songs from the album and set against a backdrop of flashing television screens, viewers are taken on an intense journey along with these core characters. They get to shudder in horror as Johnny falls into a drug addiction, feel compassion as Tunny joins and then gets injured in the military, and smile small smiles of understanding as Will stays home with and fights with his pregnant girlfriend. That “girlfriend” is Heather, portrayed by the sprightly Mariah McFarlane, who has such a haunting voice and an intriguing presence that she often causes the male leads, who all turn out solid performances, to fade into the background. Her performance during “Tales of Another Broken Home” is particularly moving and one of the highlights of this high-energy performance.

Mariah MacFarlane as Heather virtually stole the show with her powerful belt (photo by Jeremy Daniel)

Mariah MacFarlane as Heather virtually stole the show with her powerful belt (photo by Jeremy Daniel)

The demanding, fast-paced choreography is almost as impressive as the music that makes the show possible. And, as these interconnected stories play out and the characters’ lives wrap up- or some would say truly begin- in unexpected ways, viewers will feel as though they’ve experienced something new and different. Akin to a long and very in-depth music video, “American Idiot” is a unique theatre experience that serves as a testament to the power of song and a tribute to the American idiot in all of us.

AMERICAN IDIOT (The Durham Performing Arts Center, April 29 and 30 at DPAC in Durham, NC, in the American Tobacco Historic District).

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American Idiot (2004 Green Day concept album): (Green Day website) and (Wikipedia).

Green Day (California punk-rock band, formed in 1987): (official website), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

American Idiot (2009 Berkeley Rep and 2010 Broadway musical): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Billie Joe Armstrong (book and lyrics): (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Michael Mayer (book and director): (Twitter page) and (Wikipedia).



Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and



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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews