Tuesday, September 21, 2010

American Idiot on Broadway

This weekend, I did something completely out of character. Try not to gasp too loudly, but I actually went to a Broadway show. Living life on the edge, I know. Despite being surrounded by theater people all through college, I just cannot enjoy most musicals. But this weekend, I threw all my misgivings away and marched into the St. James Theatre in New York to see American Idiot.

I'm assuming that if you're reading this blog, you know about American Idiot, but just in case: it's a phenomenal concept album by Green Day that was released exactly 6 years ago today (happy birthday!) The guy who wrote Spring Awakening (psh, like I know his name offhand) joined forces with Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, and the two created a musical that eventually ended up on Broadway. Here's a quick trailer for it:

I honestly wasn't sure what to expect, and I was a little scared that I'd spend an hour and a half wishing other people would stop ruining Green Day songs. But I actually ended up loving it, even more than I ever anticipated I could. When the opening riff to "American Idiot" started blaring over the speakers, and John Gallagher Jr. (he played the main character, Johnny) began singing, I felt a little wary. Sorry musical theater people, but I just did not like his voice as much as Billie Joe's and to be honest, I actually preferred the singing voices of Johnny's two best friends over his (oh, the horror!). But as the show went on, I warmed to the actors, and by the time "Give Me Novocaine" reached its climax, I was completely won over.

The truth is, American Idiot is perfect for a musical, because the album is so visual and complex. I remember when the album first came out, I spent an hour studying the lyrics and scouring the internet for theories on what they meant. Seeing the story played out on a stage in front of me took my understanding of the characters to a whole new level. The fact that the band was involved in the script was the key, because I know that this story is how Billie Joe and Co. wanted it to be; it's not a misinterpreted version of "punk" coming from some theater nerds.

All in all, this performance reminded me how perfect of an album American Idiot really is. It came out during my junior year of high school, just when I was starting to go to concerts and become involved in the music scene. So really, it is one of the most influential albums in my life. Seeing it acted out while surrounded by other people who all have their own experiences with the record is the perfect way to celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest albums of the decade.

See it for yourself: www.americanidiotonbroadway.com


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