by Rick Pender
Aronoff to host Green Day-inspired Punk Rock opera in spring 2014
Two weeks ago I caught a touring performance of American Idiot: The Musical when it made a three-evening stop at Dayton's Victoria Theatre (see review here).
The performance of Green Day's album transformed into a musical theater
piece was a noisy blast of defiance, full of energy – although a downer
of a story about three guys being overwhelmed by everyday life. But
that's what you's probably expect of a "Punk Rock Opera." We'll have it
for two nights in Cincinnati, Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12,
2014 (that's right, a year from now) as part of the Broadway
Across America series at the Aronoff (about twice the size of the
Victoria). If you're a fan of Green Day, you'll want to see this one.
And if you like shows such as next to normal, a recent big
hit for Ensemble Theatre, it's worth noting that Green Day's songs were
orchestrated for the stage show by Tom Kitt, who composed N2N's story of a bipolar mom struggling to keep her family together.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:15 AM | Permalink
Dayton’s Victoria Theatre presents Tony Award-nominated, Green Day-inspired musical
Critic's Pick As I ate dinner on Tuesday evening before attending a
performance at Dayton’s Victoria Theatre, my server asked, “Did you hear that
Green Day is performing next door?” I had to set her straight. “Well, not
exactly. Green Day’s music is being
performed next door — it’s a Broadway show that uses the tunes from their American Idiot recording.” I caught the
opening night of a three-day gig (through Thursday, March 14) by an energetic
touring company that’s recreating the Tony Award-nominated American Idiot: The Musical. If you have time to make an hour north
on I-75, you won’t be disappointed.
Green Day’s powerful Punk score — their 2004 album was
conceived as a “Punk Rock Opera” — is the perfect soundtrack for the story of
three disaffected guys who take different downward spirals when confronted with
the numbing boredom of everyday life, “alien nation,” as they sing in the
opening number. Johnny is the central character, a wannabe musician who yearns
to make it in the city; he convinces his buddies Will and Tunny to join him in
escaping suburbia. Their paths diverge quickly: Will’s girlfriend is pregnant,
so he stays to sort things out; Tunny is quickly disaffected by urban life and
captivated by dreams of military success; and Johnny, not quite willing to
admit his loneliness, dreams about a girl he sees and gets caught by a drug
dealer — who’s probably a figment of his imagination. Things don’t turn out
well for any of them, and by show’s end they’re back home, chastened by the
experience — Tunny’s leg lost in combat, Johnny’s ego shattered and Will’s
relationship in ruins. But they seem to be more accepting of their fates. The
curtain call features the entire company playing guitars and performing “Good
Riddance (Time of Your Life),” a number that reflects their disillusion,
reminiscence and (maybe) forward motion.
The current tour has a young cast (it’s a non-Equity tour)
without a ton of experience, but that’s perfect for this show, which demands a
stage full of angry energy. They hurtle through the 100-minute performance,
diving right into the title tune with thrashing energy demanded by Green Day’s
music. (For theater fans, it’s worth noting that Green Day’s music has been
orchestrated and arranged by Tom Kitt, composer of the Tony Award-winning next to normal, a show that has a score
with similar power.) Steven Hoggett’s pounding choreography captures the
physicality of Rock stage performance, rendered rapidly and rhythmically with
tons of repetitive angular motion.
Alex Nee, Casey O’Farrell and Thomas Hettrick, as Johnny,
Will and Tunny, turn in credible performances of roles that don’t have a lot of
depth — and that’s OK. American Idiot is more about emotions than storytelling,
and they each capture that: Nee’s hallucinatory attraction to destructive
behavior is convincing, O’Farrell’s frustration with being trapped and left
behind is believable, and Hettrick’s dreams of heroism and his wake-up call to
a damaged life are rendered credibly. Female roles are more stereotyped — two
of them don’t even have names: Whatsername and The Extraordinary Girl — but
Alyssa DiPalma, Jenna Rubah and Kennedy Caughell (as Heather, the mother of
Will’s kid) have fine voices. DiPalma and Rubah have featured choreography
(Rubah does an aerial ballet with Hettrick as he recovers in a military
hospital) that is effective.
The touring production retains Christine Jones’s scenic
design and Kevin Adams’s lighting design, both of which landed 2010 Tony Awards.
The set has a floor-to-ceiling rear wall sporting two dozen video screens that
support the action — from an opening barrage of mind-numbing, multi-channel
news coverage to scene-to-scene punctuation with wry titles. Additionally, the
screens are sometimes fed live imagery from an onstage camera, especially when
St. Jimmy (Trent Saunders) entices Johnny into the world of addiction, but also
during “Favorite Son,” Tunny’s late-night infomercial of military recruitment
(performed with muscle-bound humor by Jared Young, backed up by four dancers in
sparkling short dresses).
The grunge of American
Idiot is made all the more vivid by the green velvet and gilt trim of the
Victoria Theatre in downtown Dayton (138 North Main St.). While the nihilistic
young men sing, “I don’t care if you don’t care,” I suspect that a lot of
people will care about this show, one that reaches out and grabs audiences by
the scruff of their necks and never lets up. But bear in mind: Only two more
performances — Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. Tickets ($46-$67, half-off
student rush, day of show): 937-228-3630 or victoriatheatre.com.
Veteran singer's new album mixes modern hits with under-heralded classics
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 8, 2009
When the "comeback album" or "career reinvention" works, as it did with Johnny Cash's rootsy 'American Recordings' series, it can be among the artist's best work ever. When it doesn't ... well, has anybody heard from Pat Boone since 1997's hilariously disastrous 'In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy?' One of the better such albums came out last year: 'Meet Glen Campbell.'