Green Day’s Tony Award-winning musical, American Idiot makes for a punchy and nostalgic night out.
By Jessica Gittel Cornish
Rich in nostalgia, tartan skirts, denim vests and tight black jeans, Green Day’s American Idiot recreated my high-school years in a fast-paced and vibrant production at the Comedy Theatre. The 90-minute powerhouse musical, produced by Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Shake & Stir Theatre, features crowd favourites such as American Idiot (cough, still as relevant as ever), Wake Me Up When September Ends and Jesus of Surburbia – to name a few.
Toying with dark themes of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and the trauma associated with war, this production disguises its heavier subjects under pulsating pop music and blinding strobe lights. The storyline follows the life of Johnny (Ben Bennett), as he narrates his experiences in a series of diary entries and letters to friends and family. The audience travels with him as well as his two male besties, Connor Crawford (Tunny) and Alex Jeans (Will) throughout one year of their lives.
The strong male cast even includes Aussie rock legend Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon) who features as the elusive St Jimmy. Accompanying these artists are standout vocal performances, belted out by female leads: Phoebe Panaretos and Ashleigh Taylor. Equally impressive is the ensemble; their high energy and stamina faultlessly rippled throughout the theatre. The vocals were spot on, solo after solo, harmony after harmony, and under the expertise of sound designer Julian Spink, the sound was crisp and well balanced.
It would have been nice to have had a bit more story and character development throughout the performances, as the musical seemed to lack a strong plot line. However overall the production was a success, no doubt thanks to Craig Ilott’s direction and Glenn Moorhouse’s musical direction. The production team have cohesively worked together and successfully transitioned the punk pop hits to the stage. Not only has it resurrected the early 2000’s pop music, it’s doing what many other productions struggle with – it’s bringing theatre to a younger demographic.
This up-beat musical full of nostalgia, punchy lighting (Matthew Marshal) and erratic choreography has done the music and lyrics of original Green Day member Billie Joe Armstrong proud. This energetic, contemporary musical has been the highlight of my 2018 as I loved every moment. It’s only running for a short time in Melbourne, so snag some tickets while they’re still available!
American Idiot plays at Comedy Theatre until 11 March. Tickets can be purchased online and by calling the box office on 13 61 00.