“American Idiot” is a gritty rock musical told through a weave of Green Day songs. It’s a tale of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll staged with the millennial in mind.
It opens with three suburban teenagers devastated and lost after 9/11; their angst quickly turns into fear, anxiety and confusion—general themes of Green Day songs.
The punk band, led by Billie Joe Armstrong, has been around since the ’80s, and “American Idiot” was its 2004 comeback album which won Best Rock Album at the Grammys.
Loud and jumpy
For the Broadway musical, Armstrong wrote the music and Michael Mayer did the book. The songs are loud and jumpy, and there’s panic in the narrative rolled out through punk rock.
But before anyone dismisses it as a whiny hipster musical, it’s really for anyone who woke up and wondered, “WTF is going on?”
It’s also for borderline millennials who grew up with Green Day’s music, and for the young ones who know the songs “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “21 Guns” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” as “classics.”
But even non-Green Day fans can enjoy “American Idiot,” says Robbie Guevara, who is directing the play’s Manila production for 9 Works Theatrical.
“In 2005, I listened to ‘American Idiot,’ the CD, and told myself, ‘It’s OK, my rock days are over.’ I listened to it again after we got the rights to the musical and realized that every song has a story. The creators fused the songs into one narrative, and you have to be callous to not let it get through you.”
“American Idiot” won two Tony Awards in 2010, for Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design, and was nominated for Best Musical. The Broadway cast recording also won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2010.
Punk and parkour
A collaboration between Globe Telecom and 9 Works Theatrical, “American Idiot” opens June 24 at the Globe Iconic Store, an outdoor amphitheater at Bonifacio High Street.
It’s tented, in case it rains, and secure, since the actors would be doing parkour.
Aside from the stunts and the singing, the audience can look forward to seeing Filipino rock stars dip their toes in theater.
Former Rivermaya vocalist Jason Fernandez plays the disillusioned Johnny. Chicosci lead singer Miggy Chavez plays reluctant dad Will. Norby David, who was also from Rivermaya, plays Theo.
Nel Gomez (“Grease,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “Romeo & Juliet”) plays Tunny, a promising young man who joins the military to fight in the war. For him, “American Idiot” is a “coming-of-age story.”
“These men are trying to make sense of the world. When you’re young, you think you’re on top of it and you can do anything,” says Gomez. “But then life hits you, and you have to grow up.”
Fernandez says, like Johnny, there was also a time in his life he didn’t know where he was headed, “but you learn from your mistakes; experience is a journey.”
Rock star Basti Artadi of Wolfgang plays the trippy St. Jimmy, Johnny’s alter ego, played by Armstrong on Broadway.
Completing the cast are Alex Godinez (Will’s girlfriend), Ela Lisondra (Extraordinary Girl), Yanah Laurel (Whatshername), Ariel Reondal (Favorite Son), Kai Atienza, Ariel Reonal, Gian Gloria, Mako Alonso, Sarah Facuri, Chesko Rodriguez, Shalee Vicencio, Mark Tayag and Kendrick Ibasco.
Questions about relationships, politics, drugs and death—the pain and frustration common among young people everywhere—makes “American Idiot” engaging.
“Insecurity and awkwardness can kick into anyone’s life,” adds Guevara. “But so can healing and hope.”
“American Idiot” will be staged June 24-26, July 1-3, 8-10, 8 p.m., at Globe Iconic Store, Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Ticket is at P2,000. Call 586-7105, 891-9999, 0917-5545560. E-mail [email protected], visit www.globe.com.ph/American-Idiot.