Reviewed by: Ed Goodman March 25, 2014
Broward Center Through April 6th
The question of the evening is: Is this a touring Broadway musical or part of a concert tour? "American Idiot", based on the album by punk rockers Green Day leaves you wondering. It could be either - but bet on the latter.
The thinly scripted show really doesn't offer much in the way of grab and hold you dialogue. Not unlike other musicals, dialogue is used for tranisitions, but the script here makes the last rock musical through South Florida, "We Will Rock You", look like a Pulitzer Prize winner for literature. (It wasn't, by the way). Safe to say though, that you don't need much dialogue when you're rolling with this music, but a little more effort on the book would have been more than welcome.
That said, "American Idiot" isn't about the story - its about the in-your-face, attitude filled music coming at us high energy doses. That is Green Day's music and if you're a fan - you'll love it.
Based on the 2005 Grammy Award winning album, "American Idiot", the rage-against-the machinesque, rebellious story follows three buds and how they deal with everything thats happening after 9/11, politically and personally. What happens to them is a story thats been told over and over - in the 50s/60's, the 80's and now with these millenials - too much sex, drugs and rock n roll. It's an all too often heard refrain and here it is once again covered by the feeling that no matter how hard you try - you get knocked back. The machine you're raging against and the rebelliousness you hope will last forever, most always fades and you're back at the beginning.
The non-Equity cast deals with the material as best they can, but they seemed to be shoveling sand against the tide. Stronger actors may have been able to save some of that thin plot, script, and music. As it is, this cast does okay - but like the material itself, there were highs and lows throughout.
Lets be fair though, actors have to get their start somewhere and this crew is earning their keep with a breakneck paced tour that really does resemble a concert tour. (The ticket prices can resemble concert prices too - just so you know). Johnny (Jared Nepute), Tunny (Dan Tracy), Will (Casey O’Farrell), Heather (Mariah MacFarlane), St. Jimmy (Carson Higgins), Whatshername (Olivia Puckett) and Extraordinary Girl, (Taylor Jones) make up the leads and they give it a mostly good turn in the fast paced show which runs about 90 minutes without intermisson.
Musically, the show's highlights were "Jesus of Suburbia", "Holiday", "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "Wake Me When September Ends". The 5-piece on stage band handled the Green Day music well - but the very animated music director/keyboardist turned out to be a distraction with his way too flashy musical cues to the band and singers - not good unless your in front of a symphony. Inadvertantly or not, he was upstaging the actors throughout.
Technically, "American Idiot" won a couple of Tony's for lighting (Kevin Adams) and scenic design (Christine Jones). Both were highlights, particularly the video wall which makes up the backdrop of the entire set. Choreogrpher Steven Hoggett's frenetic, athletic moves featured highs and lows, just like the music and acting.
The story of rebellion and coming of age is an old one, told too many different times by every generation. We get it. In this show, like all the others "you buy the premise, you buy the bit". Here, I would have preferred more of a velvet hammer approach than the sledgehammer writers Billy Joe Armstrong and Micahel Mayer used. As I said earlier, if you're a fan of Green Day and their album "American Idiot" you'll love the show. If not, well...
"American Idiot" runs through April 6th at the Broward Center.
Tickets: Box office 954 462-0222 or www.browardcenter.org