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Wake Me Up When September Ends: A Requiem To Lost Youth

I have waited for Green Day’s musical, “American Idiot”, with great anticipation. Boy were my expectations satisfied! Although “American Idiot” seemed more like a really fancy concert with elaborate sets than it did a Broadway musical, it was still a fantastic theatrical experience. Most of the audience were teenagers dressed in punk outfits, and the atmosphere was friendly and good-natured. The book that the show “American Idiot” is based on was written by Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of the band Green Day, and Michael Mayer, the director of the successful play “Spring Awakening”. The Tony Award winning musical is about three teenage boys trying to make sense of the world after 9/11. By using songs from Green Day’s albums to create a punk rock atmosphere, “American Idiot” captures the mind of the watcher.

I thought that Van Hughes played the main role of Johnny very well. His voice was able to reach all of the notes and brought life into the music. He executed all of his many stunts perfectly and added such depth to his character that I felt that I was watching someone’s actual life transpire before me. It was pretty cool to see the man who had perfected this role on Broadway. Van Hughes was my favorite actor in the show. I was surprised and happy to see the Minneapolis return of two of my favorite actors from last year’s Broadway tour of “Hair”. Matt DeAngelis and Larkin Bogan are both in the Ensemble in “American Idiot”. One performance that I did not like was Scott J. Campbell as Tunny. For the most part, he blended into the background, except for when he was flying through the air in “Extraordinary Girl” and didn’t seem, to me, like a main character.

The choreography of “American Idiot” matched the music’s head banging beat. The dancing seemed natural, like it was perfectly improvised. Each dancer knew their part and together they created the seamless spontaneity of a mosh pit. I almost expected that at any moment they would start stage diving into the audience!

TVs showing news footage and documentaries from around the time of 9/11 opened the show with an explosive bang. The volume slowly escalated while onstage the cast watched the televisions flicker from video to video. Then, when the volume was extremely loud, “American Idiot” began. The TVs attached to the walls of the set were an interesting, but sometimes very distracting choice. I did not like the fact that they played videos during many of the songs, since my eyes started focusing on the screens rather than what was happening on the stage. I felt that the only times the TVs actually added to the performance were when they were showing the different footage at the beginning of the show and when they showed the filming of St. Jimmy during his first appearance on stage.

If you are a Green Day fan you will enjoy this brilliant musical. I certainly did! It is a musical that I want to see again and again. It’s not often that you see a touring show with seven cast members who were in the show on Broadway. I’d advise not taking anyone under the age of 12 to see “American Idiot” because of the many sexual situations and aggressive swearing. People who dislike blinding strobe lights should understand that the lights are used extensively. 

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Comment by Dudley Voigt on February 24, 2012 at 2:43pm

What, no mention of your outfit????  

Your love of the material comes shining through, yet you manage to keep this review balanced and detailed.  Clear sentences, clear opinions, strong details!


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