KALAMAZOO, MI -- Jenna Rubaii didn't need to do much homework for her role as The Extraordinary Girl in the touring production of "American Idiot."
The two-time Tony Award winning musical is based on the Grammy Award-winning album of the same name from Green Day and frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. "American Idiot" will come through Kalamazoo at 7:30 p.m. on March 26 at Miller Auditorium.
It features popular songs from the punk band. The 23-year-old Rubaii, who graduated last spring from the University of Miami's Department of Theatre Arts, said she knew the band well.
"I grew up listening to punk rock in middle school and loved going to the Warped Tour and going to gigs all the time. I was definitely a Green Day fan before the show. I find it really exciting to be part of this and sing their music," she said.
The rock opera originally opened at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2009 before moving to Broadway, where it premiered in the spring of 2010. It ran for more than 400 performances, including some where Armstrong played the character St. Jimmy, a wild drug peddler who is a manifestation of the main character, Johnny.
The story from the concept album is about three childhood friends -- Johnny, Will and Tunny -- who are anxious to leave their California suburb shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. They decide to move to the city, but Will is unable to go as his girlfriend becomes pregnant. Tunny loses interest in the city and eventually joins the military, while Johnny experiences drug problems and lost love.
The touring musical is intense and physically strenuous on the cast, her part in particular, Rubaii said. Rubaii's character is a nurse who meets Tunny (Thomas Hettrick) in the hospital after he's wounded in the war. During one of his dreams, the two fly high above the stage.
Rubaii said they spent three days in Las Vegas in July learning the basics of flying. Some of the movements aren't difficult to pull off, such as flips, but landing on a hospital bed without making it look sloppy proved tricky, she said.
"We just found practicing over and over has been the biggest help with making it look easy," she said.
The musical is controversial and in-your-face at times, Rubaii said. In some cases, the cast has seen people walk out.
“We accept that that’s going to happen a lot. It's different from city to city,” she said.
But for fans of Green Day and Armstrong who know what to expect from the production, it can be a raucous night of high-energy theater with hits including "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "21 Guns" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends."
"I think when people come to see it, be prepared to rock out. We love an audience that’s enthusiastic. We feed off their energy," Rubaii said.
For more information, call 269-387-2300 or go to www.millerauditorium.com.
Full article and slideshow at MLive.com: HERE