At Playbill's invitation, Mayer, who won his Best Direction Tony for Spring Awakening, sat down with collaborator Armstrong (they share book credit on the musical American Idiot) to talk about the 2004 source album and its rebirth as a Broadway rock musical.
Will Armstrong write another musical? Read on — and listen, too. We've got exclusive audio outtakes and extras.
MICHAEL MAYER: Why did you make the record "American Idiot"?
BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG: I think it was maybe a combination of some kind of artistic statement and also [a reflection of] what was happening at that time.
MM: This was during the beginning of the Iraq War?
BJA: Yeah — 2002–2003. Watching the tanks going in and the journalists embedded, it was like reality television was meeting war.
MM: What was it about rock opera that felt right as a vehicle for channeling that moment?
BJA: I've always liked songs that told stories (like "Tommy" or "Sergeant Pepper"). I think to use a rock opera sounded more appealing, and it was something I felt like I had the chops to do.
MM: When you first made the album, did you visualize it happening on a stage?
BJA: Yeah! I visualized the characters in my head, and starting thinking, "Wow, this could totally be staged...it could be something."
MM: What was your first