As a Green Day fan, I thoroughly enjoyed watching American Idiot on Thursday, February 14 presented by the Company Theatre in Norwell, Massachusetts. The music was by Green Day, the lyrics were by Billie Joe Armstrong and the book was by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer. The directing and choreography were both done by Corinne M. Mason with musical direction by Steve Bass. Corinne Mason did a fabulous job of incorporating opera with the Green Day songs to reach a broader audience and keep everyone captivated.
The costume design was done by Alison Gordon. The set design was done by Ryan Barrow. The lighting design was done by Adam Clark. Green Day’s hit songs such as Holiday, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Wake Me Up When September Ends, and Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) reached out to every fan in the audience.
Ryan Barrow did incredible work with the set design. The set was a beat-up apartment with a small TV, an old couch, and posters on the wall.
The audience was able to see that this space was being occupied by young angry rebels. Assessment of production values, including set, lights, sound, props, and costumes – including designer names.
Corinne Mason truly did a remarkable job at bringing us to that time with her choreography which included high-energy dancing and headbanging to fit right in with the punk music. The energy of these young characters lit up the stage and spread to the entire audience. The choreography for the song Holiday, which includes the characters packed into a wire cart, was one to emphasize.
I was able to feel several emotions throughout the performance. There were themes of punk rock and love. There were also the struggles of depression, trauma, and addiction. The strong language that was used also added to those emotions. This play wasn’t simply about the punk rock band but the story behind it. The show began with the characters singing American Idiot which set the tone for the rest of the performance. These youthful characters were just trying to find their voice and the audience was able to feel that. A major part was when Johnny leaves his parents and his hometown to move to the city and escape conforming to society. Once he moves, he falls in love and becomes addicted to drugs.
You could tell Johnny was angry when his best friend Tunny (played by actor Brendan Duquette) went off to war. He stated, “Tunny’s dream turned red, white, and blue, but I thought that good guy don’t wear red, white, and blue.” Joining the military meant agreeing with what the United States stood for which was also going against what Johnny stood for. Johnny felt betrayed by Tunny. At that time was when Johnny felt most lonely. “When I feel like a civil war, like a knife in the heart / I got an ax to grind and it’s splitting my head open. No friends, no girls, I need both.” Evan Cole also showed his emotion and the best of his talent on stage where he played his guitar for Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
Another part that I want to highlight for its significance is when Johnny’s other friend Will (played by actor William Oliver) discovered that his girlfriend Heather (played by actress Sarah Kelly) was pregnant. This was a big moment for Will because while his friends were moving on with their lives, he felt alone and had a hard time accepting the fact that he was going to be a father. This was important because his friends were off trying to find freedom, yet he was losing his freedom due to being a parent.
These characters all hit rock bottom. From Tunny losing his leg from the war to Johnny becoming addicted to drugs to Will and Sarah taking on the responsibilities of being parents. In the end, the enduring friendship that the characters had was strong enough to bring them all back together when they sang Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) which made for the perfect ending leaving the characters and audience feeling uplifted.
Overall, this play is one I would recommend to anyone. The struggles these characters face are ones that anyone can relate to and be emotionally moved by.