Broadways, American Idiot makes its debut on these shores with a stint at the Mayflower in Southampton. Based on the Green Day album, with additional songs from the follow up ‘21st Century Breakdown’ and co-written by director Michael Mayer, it focuses on three childhood friends Johnny Will and Tunny.
Unlike ’21st Century Jukebox Musical’, this was written as a story, much like The Who’s ‘Tommy’ making it more a cohesive musical, and less a game of how many times can we drop a song title in a sentence.
The three main characters are about to embark on a rebellious journey across America when Will (Casey O Farrell) finds out his girlfriend is pregnant so he stays behind to waste away in front of the TV, Tunny (Thomas Hettrick) awakes to see a glamorous TV advert for the army which causes him to join leaving Johnny (Alex Neill) to meet St Jimmy, a representation of drugs in Johnny’s head.
The themes in this show are unlike many other musicals around (Rent is the only other one I can think of who hits these themes with such bravery), it starts with the news flickering past, past thereality TV has soaked our culture and the George Bush school of politics, before hitting the themes of teen pregnancy and drug abuse without any sugar coating.
The three mains are brilliant, and are technically better singers than Billy Joe Armstrong, the Green Day frontman himself. They are musical enough for this to make sense but not Glee enough to make it cheesy.
Arguably St Jimmy (played by Trent Saunders) steals this show as the devil on the shoulder glam rock alter ego but a weak link is Whatshername (Alyssa Dipalma), a girl Johnny falls in love with but leaves for drugs, who’s nasally tone lack the strength and emotion songs like ‘21 Guns’ requires.
Overall this is a strong cast of American performers and a backing band (who’s possible requirement was to bare a resemblance to a member of Green Day).
The topics are brave, the story strong, the songs skilfully not cheesy and full of emotion leaving this experience a true testament to Green Day’s story telling.
For more information on dates, tickets etc visit www.americanidiotthemusical.com