EDITOR’S NOTE: Liz Alderson is a freelance entertainment writer, based in Raleigh, NC, and a member of the “yo-yo generation” known as Generation Y. The following review is a collaboration between a clueless Baby Boomer and a big Green Day fan who has looked forward to seeing American Idiot for months.
The Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre presentation of Green Day’s American Idiot rocked Raleigh Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday night. Original Broadway cast members Van Hughes and Joshua Kobak personified the angst of Generation Y as they reprised their roles as the disillusioned and self-destructive Johnny, who doesn’t want to be an American idiot, manipulated by the media, and his flashy savior/nemesis, the insidious drug dealer St. Jimmy, who provides daily doses of heroin to dull Johnny’s psychic pain.
At the very moment that Johnny finally meets Ms. Right — or Ms. Right Now (Gabrielle McClinton as Whatsername) — St. Jimmy slithers in, like the snake in the Garden of Eden, to provide temptations that Johnny is powerless to resist. Meanwhile, Johnny’s BFFs Will and Tunny (Jake Epstein and Scott J. Campbell) are wrestling with their own demons. Will knocks up his girlfriend Heather (Original Broadway cast member Leslie McDonel), and Tunny decides to Be All That He Can Be and ends up in a U.S. Army hospital, with serious war wounds.
Gabrielle McClinton has some great songs to sing as Whatsername, and her vocals on “Last Night on Earth” and “Last of the American Girls” are electric; and Leslie McDonel as Heather kicks reluctant daddy Will to the curb, while belting “Too Much Too Soon.”
Jake Epstein is good as poor, befuddled Will, who doesn’t miss his water till the well runs dry and pours out his heartache in “Give Me Novocain,” and Scott Campbell sings along — from his hospital bed — where he encounters a sympathetic nurse (Nicci Claspell) who morphs into the “Extraordinary Girl” in his drug-induced fantasy, as they both soar high above his bed of pain.
The rambunctious musical staging of 2007 Tony Award®-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett (Black Watch) evokes the iconoclastic spirit of Green Day and recreates onstage the herky-jerky mosh-pit moves of the California punk rock group’s most fervent fans, while musical director Jared Stein and the show’s onstage band blaze through Green Day’s greatest hits, such as “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” and the title tune.
Tony Award-winning scenic designer Christine Jones’ splendid multilevel warehouse-interior set is festooned with the unblinking eyes of dozens of TVs, punctuating the proceedings with news footage circa 2004, saucy MTV-style video snippets, and live shots of the cast. American Idiot won’t just have Generation Y slackers tapping their feet and dancing in their seats, but has a much broader appeal that even Baby Boomers can appreciate.
Hear what viewers have to say about this epic rock musical.
Feb. 1st Raleigh, NC WRAL.com review by Jodi Glusco: http://www.wral.com/entertainment/out_and_about/blogpost/10672520/ and Jan. 27th blog by Kathy Hanrahan: http://www.wral.com/entertainment/out_and_about/blogpost/10650294/; Jan. 12th Raleigh, NC NBC17.com preview and Feb. 1st review by Erica Bustamante: http://www2.nbc17.com/entertainment/2012/jan/12/american-idiot-tour-coming-raleigh-along-3-origina-ar-1808501/ and http://www2.nbc17.com/entertainment/2012/feb/01/review-green-days-american-idiot-kicks-raleigh-sti-ar-1879627/; Feb. 1st Raleigh, NC Jan. 31st Durham, NC Independent Weekly preview by Jordan Lawrence: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/will-lovers-of-american-idiot-the-2004-green-day-album-be-satisfied-with-its-staging/Content?oid=2762953; Jan. 29th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by David Menconi: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/01/29/1811849/rock-and-relevance.html; and Jan. 26th Boston, MA Boston Globe review by Don Aucoin: http://articles.boston.com/2012-01-26/arts/30662036_1_emotional-wallop-pregnant-girlfriend-johnny. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Jan. 31st Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click, http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2012/01/the-first-national-tour-of-green-days-punk-rock-opera-american-idiot-is-flat-out-electrifying/.)
Broadway Series South and the North Carolina present Green Day’s AMERICAN IDIOT at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31-Feb. 3, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 and 5 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $22.25-$84.75 (including fees), except $26 Student Rush Tickets for students with valid ID, sold at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium Box Office for cash only one hour before each show.
Progress Energy Center Box Office: 919/831-6060 (information only).
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/1550851.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-996-8707, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.progressenergycenter.com/broadway-series-south/group-sales.
SHOW: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/event/americanidiot-737 and http://www.nctheatre.com/shows/green-days-american-idiot.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://americanidiotthemusical.com/media.php.
Broadway Series South: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/broadway-series-south.
North Carolina Theatre: http://www.nctheatre.com/.
NCT BLOG: http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE 1: $26 Student Rush Tickets in the first two rows of the orchestra pit will be sold for cash at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium Box Office to students with valid ID, starting one hour before each performance. For details, click http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes/entry/student-rush-tickets-in-the-orchestra-pit-for-american-idiot.
NOTE 2: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 2 p.m. Feb. 4th performance.
The Musical: http://www.americanidiotthemusical.com/ (official National Tour website), http://www.greenday.com/american-idiot (the Green Day website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Idiot_(musical) (Wikipedia), and http://ibdb.com/show.php?ID=485577 (Internet Broadway Database).
The Album: http://www.greenday.com/music (Green Day’s website), http://www.geekstinkbreath.net/greenday/discography-item/american-idiot/ (GeekStinkBreath.net) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Idiot (Wikipedia).
Green Day: http://www.greenday.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Day (Wikipedia).
Billie Joe Armstrong: http://www.greenday.net/billiejoe.html (Green Day’s website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billie_Joe_Armstrong (Wikipedia).
Michael Mayer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Mayer_(director) (Wikipedia) and http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=15595 (Internet Broadway Database).
Liz Alderson is a freelance entertainment writer, based in Raleigh, NC; a member of as Generation Y; and a big Green Day fan who has looked forward to seeing American Idiot for months.
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.
To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.