“I jerked off into oblivion again…”If that line pulls at your moral heartstrings in even the slightest, I suggest that you find another musical. American Idiot is about three angst ridden, rebels that start out their journey together, fighting for the right of freedom from the propaganda through their music. They all fight their own battles and gradually split apart to follow very different paths. The protagonist, Johnny(Van Hughes), stays on the path he and his friends had constructed from the very beginning; making music, and enjoying life. Another, Tunny(Scott J. Campbell) finds his true calling to join the army and fight for the country he once denounced. Finally, the third friend, Will(Jake Epstein) is forced to stay home and take care of his wife and unborn child before he can even set off on the adventure. The rollercoaster of their trials leads them to a better understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Through the thick air of teen spirit, rose two voices that purely proclaimed beauty in the art of rock and roll. Heather(Leslie McDonel) first displayed her voice in “Dearly Beloved.” After the ruckus and chaos, she was a sweet icing to my ears; something different in the noise and turmoil. Later on, she showed a stronger, more assertive side in “Too Much Too Soon”. At first, Johnny sounded like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo whenever he spoke, but not when he sang. During the song “When It’s Time”, his voice was so sweet and tender; one could almost hear the passion. The dancing was awfully repetitive, combining the lyrics and symbolism made it come off as cheesy and almost mocking. Later, in the play, during the number “Give Me Novacaine,” Johnny and Whatshername(Gabrielle McClinton) were set in the middle of the stage while having sex, even though they did not sing during the song while Will and Tunny were being highlighted on the sidelines. There are some things that just detract from musicals.
Sometimes when symbolism is used in rock concerts, it rolls too far away from belief. The beginning of the play welcomed the audience into a recorded track of commercials and news stories, setting a tone of seriousness. When the curtain rose, variously sized television screens were evident and were used to convey meaningful messages before songs started. However, during the song “Holiday,” all of that seriousness was lost to a silly moving projection of roads while the cast tried to interpret the movement of the ‘vehicle’ they were ‘riding’ in. I am well aware that rock concerts generally have brilliant light shows, but some of the strobe lights were so bright that they were imprinting my retina. The combination of all of these factors left a sour taste in my eyes.
American Idiot contains strong language, many sexual references, and whispers of a rock concert that tried to have a storyline in order to survive in Broadway. If you are looking for a good time and love Green Day’s music and do not mind suggestive content, this play might be for you. “Dear dad…or God…whatever…”