Critics wrong on ‘American Idiot’
On Saturday March 8, Centre in the Square in downtown Kitchener managed to fill nearly every seat as audience members of all ages came to enjoy an electrifying musical performance of Green Day’s American Idiot: The Musical.
The musical itself is set in a post 9/11 world. It tells the coming of age story of three best friends who are torn between living idealistic, easy suburban lives or embarking on an uncharted journey toward their own grandiose aspirations. The show has had massive success throughout North America. Transforming Green Day’s legendary punk sound into a melodious stage adaptation fit for Broadway seemed to be a surprising progression.
As the red curtains peeled back, an enormous black wall covered with varying sizes of flat screen televisions lit up with different images throughout the show which doubled as an immense projection surface. It was a relief that the ballads remained true to Green Day’s sound. Starting with the well-known track “American Idiot,” the actors emerged in punk-inspired costumes and danced choreography that was saturated with kicking legs, air punches, and, of course, aggressive head banging.
Jared Neptune played Johnny, one of the three best friends, who remained in suburbia with his pregnant girlfriend Heather, played by the vocal powerhouse Mariah Macfarlane. Their relationship deflated with time as they began to resent each other for growing up too fast and falling into the rut that is suburban living. The majority of their story was told on a couch which seems relatively uneventful; however, the piece of furniture was representative of home and family, not to mention a playground for making out and jumping around.
Tunny, performed by Dan Tracy, marched off to war in a patriotic and courageous effort following the 9/11 tragedy in the United States. Taylor Jones plays a nurse as well as his international love interest; she is appropriately named Extraordinary Girl. Most of Tunny’s theatrical journey was on a hospital bed. Both characters represented the harsh reality of war, love, and nationalism which contributed to the overall political undertones of the performance.
Finally, Casey O’Farrell played the character Will, the bad-boy who moved to the city to pursue his dreams. Instead, he met ‘Whatsername,’ acted by Olivia Puckett. The duo became addicted to one another and to heroin. Their performance was completely provocative and encapsulated what Green Day was celebrated for as an American rock band: sex, drugs and rock music.
The acting was completely phenomenal. The subplots were simply highlighted by Green Day music; hits such as “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Holiday,” “21 Guns” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” had the audience bobbing their heads and reminiscing.
Despite American Idiot’s success, it has been widely criticized for being mildly average; the storyline has frequently been condemned as unmoving and unoriginal. The critics could not be more out of touch with the musical’s message. Portrayed so unmistakably, the show is electric, and politically charged. The utilization of media represents the explosive impact technology has had in a post-9/11 atmosphere.
Every cue was taken, no line was missed, and no head bang went unnoticed. The incorporation of Green Day into this trifecta of performance perfection makes this musical timeless and unparalleled.