2/8/14 – Boston Opera House

As the lights dimmed and people settled into their seats, feet began to pound and voices started to shout from on stage. With the curtain still down, the audience fell silent, but the pounding and screams got louder and louder. As the suspense increased, the curtain slowly rose and you could make out the various shadows of the actors.

The set of this musical is unconventional — the back wall is almost completely covered by small television screens, alive with static, and there’s a band distributed between the left and right sides of the stage. The company stares at the buzzing screens above them, listening to breaking news regarding the state of the union. Tensions rise as the cast becomes fed up the more they hear about the crumbling condition of the country. All of a sudden, the band begins to play the familiar chords of “American Idiot,” and the actors erupt into the first number of the rock opera.

American Idiot is a one-act musical, adapted from Green Day’s 2004 album of the same name. The show’s music was composed by Green Day, and the lyrics were written by the band’s controversial frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong. The story revolves around the lives of three friends — Johnny, Will, and Tunny — who hope to escape from the suffocating boredom of suburban life, guitars in hand. Just as they’re about to skip town for the city, however, Will’s (Casey O’Farrell) past catches up with him and he finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant.

Although Johnny (Jared Nepute) and Tunny (Dan Tracy) hate to leave their friend behind, they ultimately decide to keep on with their search for the meaning of life in the big city. But everything changes when Tunny decides to enlist in the army and is sent off to war. Completely alone and in a strange new city, Johnny begins to explore sex and drugs and discovers a part of himself he comes to hate. This dark side of Johnny is portrayed by his alter ego, St. Jimmy, an out-of-control addict who is later revealed to be the creation of his own sick imagination.

There was a furor of applause at the end of each long and crazy musical number. The whole cast, including the on stage band, gave it their all throughout the performance. Between the flashing lights, the eccentric choreography, and the infectious melodies, there was always something capturing the audience’s attention. Powerful, loud, and intense, the show kept audience members’ hearts racing the entire time. For fans of the band, this funny and aggressive adaptation of a classic Green Day album paid a stunning tribute to the punk anthems on American Idiot.

A Groundbreaking Rock Opera: American Idiot
Pros
  • Talented and energetic cast members
  • Unique set and great use of all its elements
  • Live band accompanying on stage
Cons
  • Too much use of strobe lighting in certain scenes
  • The actors' voices got drowned out by the band at times
  • The company's singing sounded too clean to be covering Green Day songs
8.5Overall Score

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