Green Day’s American Idiot – The Musical
The Mayflower Theatre – Southampton
Green Day’s world-wide smash hit album brought to life as a Broadway musical? The very idea of the work of much-loved punk icons of two decade being turned into a something a mainstream as a musical has been enough to polarise opinion amongst fans. Mental images of ‘Fame’ types skipping around a stage watering down what was an album that was supposed to be sticking it right to the man too much to bear for some. Those thoughts were lurking as the curtain rose for the press-premier of the musical in the UK, but were then quickly dispelled.
The three guys in the opening scene were well cast surely to remind us of the originators of the music bearing more than a passing resemblance to Billie Joe, Tre and Mike. The music throughout is played live by a band who although generally in the shadows were going for it the whole show as if it was just them on that stage.
The cast, and I hesitate to say supporting because almost all get the spotlight as some point, reassuringly every day looking, extreme dancing and singing talent one and all, but all could be the girl or boy next door and not Hollywood perfection which was nice to see.
As the story unfolds, told in mostly music and singing rather than dialogue you could be forgiven for forgetting that the album came first and the musical second. One of the joys of the show is that there is so much going on. The spotlight is on the main character or characters in each scene but look to your left the couple on the sofa are doing their thing, look to the right and there’s other dubious activity. It’s gritty stuff too, with sex scenes (though hardly porn), drug abuse, intravenous and otherwise and plenty of four-letter fury.
The cast dance as they sing, jagged and with feeling, the real feel of the street and a backstreet one at that. The surprises come with a steady flow from all angles visually with splashes of humour but in keeping with the feeling of the album the story is generally not a happy one with the paradox of being thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. The finale, and fear not I’m not about to ruin it by spilling the beans, is an emotional one.
For all those that feel the band have gone a step too far endorsing this musical version of what is a punk rock album, think again. This is a great big hugely entertaining interpretation of American Idiot the album. It is a totally credible and justified punk inspired musical which will leave you with a grin from ear to ear and quite possibly tears rolling down your cheeks. It is brilliant stuff visually, artistically and musically and sure to be a smasher in the UK as it has been in the USA.
More at Big Cheese Magazine: HERE