|Photo courtesy of Center Theatre Group|
Photo credit: Doug Hamilton
The curtains opened and rather than seeing Billie Joe Armstrong rocking out in front of a mic stand, the audience was greeted by an entire cast of actors playing angst-y, head-banging, young adults full of "F-you" attitude - awashed in bright flashing concert lights.
With the political backdrop of America during the Bush Jr. era, "American Idiot" is your classical tale of growing up in Suburbia. Our three antiheroes Johnny (Van Hughes, who also starred in the Broadway production), Will (Jake Epstein) and Tunny (Scott J. Campbell) are unmotivated and do nothing but sit around in Johnny's basement drinking beer all day. What's the point, after all? Bored by the cookie-cutter, suffocating life of Suburbia, the boys decide to chase the possibility of the American dream and head to the big city. Once the decision is made, Reality sets in as each of our companions is faced with life-changing choices: becoming young parents, joining the service, and taking risks.
Eventually, our firiends find themselves all back in the town they longed to escape. Though they returned to the routine and mundane life, they returned with different life experiences.
As cliché as the story is, it is in my opinion, one that still works because it is relatable to most of the audience. Whether we lived (or are living) the life, experienced the same scenarios ourselves, or knew people who took the same life paths, these were all too familiar stories. Certainly, I saw the last decade of my life flash before my eyes.
If you don't like musicals or going to the theatre, "American Idiot" is nothing like your typical theatre experience. If you do like going to musicals and theatre, well, you'll enjoy a new kind of theatre experience. Familiarity with the music is not required, but certainly adds another layer of enjoyment.
Expect very little dialogue. The music is what propels and narrates the story. Audiences will be treated to essentially a rock concert with the flashing lights and amount of head-banging, not to mention the live band on stage. My favorite moment, however, comes at the end of the show just after the first curtain call. It is the sober moment after the rush and adrenaline subsides, when the cast returns to the stage with acoustic guitars to perform Green Day's "Time of Your Life." Indeed, I hope you have the time of your life. I certainly did. So much so that I've got tickets to see it again tonight.
American Idiot is currently running at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center now through April 23. Tickets start as low as $20. For more information, visit www.centertheatregroup.org.
NOTE: This show is performed without an intermission.
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