Could Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong be Broadway's next big star?
From the moment he steps on the stage of Broadway’s St. James Theater
(or, actually, appears on a balcony high, high above the stage), Green
Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong proves very much at home. Yes, it
seems that punk and Broadway are compatible — at least they are in the
rock opera American Idiot, which is getting a jolt of extra
adrenaline and rock-star charisma with Armstrong playing 50
performances of the stage show, on select dates through Feb. 27.
I’ve been a fan of American Idiot since it premiered last
spring, but it has struggled a bit at the box office. Armstrong’s
limited run as the drug dealer St. Jimmy is likely to boost ticket
sales, of course, but the show is worth seeing on its own terms.
Certainly, fans expecting a faux Green Day concert are likely to be
disappointed. (St. Jimmy has only a handful of numbers.)
The surprise for me is how seamlessly Armstrong blends into the
youthful ensemble on stage — and how readily he commits to the part. He
hits his marks, waves his hands as Steven Hoggett’s choreography
demands, and enthusiastically acts out the role of an outré big-city
drug dealer seducing and corrupting a suburban innocent (played by Spring Awakening vet John Gallagher Jr., whose own singing clearly reflects Armstrong’s influence). It is, in short, a real performance.
So, PopWatchers, who else is eager to see Billie Joe on stage in American Idiot? And who else thinks that he and his bandmates should consider writing an original stage musical of their own?