American Idiot was a surprise smash hit on Broadway in 2010 and this week launches its 1st National Tour in Toronto. Arguably one of the most anticipated shows of Toronto’s 2011 season, the current tour cast features four Canadians, including Jake Epstein as Will and Scott. J Campbell as Tunny.
American Idiot first premiered at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in September 2009 and played through November of that year before opening on Broadway in April 2010. Hailed by the New York Times as “the most adventurous musical to brave Broadway in the past decade” and The Toronto Star as “the first great musical of the 21st century”, the show was nominated for Best Musical at the 2010 Tony Awards and took home two awards that year.
Based on the award-winning Green Day album of the same name, American Idiot takes the songs and characters from that album and brings them to life on stage. Applauded for its creative use of lighting, costumes and set design, the show promises to be a feast for the eyes and the ears.
Toronto is thrilled to have the opportunity to launch the American Idiot tour, and BWW will be on hand to cover the entire event and bring readers exclusive coverage of all the opening night excitement. We are also going to be speaking to the Canadian cast members about what their journey has been like, and about the unique opportunity they have getting to kick off the tour on home-turf. Today we are speaking with Scott J Campbell, who has spent the last few years on Broadway and is enjoying a homecoming to Toronto with American Idiot:
Congratulations on American Idiot! What has the experience been like for you so far?
Amazing. Stepping out of the chorus there’s a lot more to do and it’s one of those shows where you get a ton of artistic freedom to go out and create something that hasn’t been done before, and explore how far you can with it. It’s a fantastically talented cast and a very cohesive process with the creative team which is always great.
Had you seen the show on Broadway or did you come to this process with fresh eyes?
I hadn’t seen the show on Broadway so I’m coming in with fresh eyes. I wasn’t really aware of what had been done before other than some promotional clips.
You have a few Broadway veterans (and original American Idiot cast members) on the tour. Did they take on a leadership role when it came to rehearsing?
Definitely Van (Hughes) has had some gems in terms of what worked on Broadway and what was important staging wise in the past. A lot of the veterans have been able to impart some great advice regarding the technical elements. But overall we are starting from scratch, even with the vets because a lot of them weren’t with the show at the very beginning. That way we are all learning it together.
Have you had a chance to get any feedback from any of the members of Green Day yet?
Oh Billie Joe told me that I was amazing! *laughs* I actually haven’t met them yet but I’m really looking forward to it. I wanted to see a show they were doing in Jersey and couldn’t make it so we are very excited for them to hopefully come up and see the show. Hopefully they will have some time to hang out with the cast and give some feedback.
Is that nerve-wracking as an actor to know they will be watching and critiquing what you guys are doing?
Not really actually. It’s best not to psych yourself up about those types of things. It’s best to be honest with yourself and what you’re doing and just stay present.
Were you a Green Day fan when you were younger?
Absolutely! I had purchased a few Green Day albums before the show was even conceptualized. Some of my first albums were Dookie and Nimrod.
How do you go about approaching the music when it’s something you’ve grown up hearing?
You just give it your all and try and make it your own – and then you wait for notes from your creative team. Tom Kitt especially has a great idea of what he wants things to sound like, and if he takes issue with anything he’s very open and communicative and respectful about what he would like tweaked. Also a lot of it is taken care of during the audition process because the creative team already knows what they are getting so to speak.