American Idiot at the Arts Theatre
Green Day’s American Idiot, the musical, returns to the UK, bursting across the stage with a grungy punk-rock energy that could rival the combined might of angst-ridden teenagers across the world. An uninterrupted 90 minutes of musical mayhem, American Idiot follows the stories of three rebellious teens looking for life’s meaning outside their quaint suburban life in post-9/11 America.
First released in September 2004, the multi-platinum album American Idiot was heralded as Green Day’s reconnection with the youth of the day and reached huge critical acclaim, achieving number one in 19 countries and selling 15 million copies worldwide. But it was its transformation into a Broadway musical that really shook things up. Originally envisioned as a rock opera by Billie Joe Armstrong, it was acclaimed theatre director Michael Mayer who proposed transforming the premise into an actual opera on stage. The result was a radically different kind of musical that set about retaining all the political rage and rock’n’roll credibility, while bringing with it the wit and charm necessary to enamour customary audiences. Since the success of its opening night at St James Theatre on New York’s 44th Street in 2010, American Idiot has lost none of its shine.
The intimate Arts Theatre provides the perfect setting to experience the production’s return, and the cast and musical arrangements are near infallible. Tom Kitt has taken songs originally composed for a single person and rendered them brilliantly for a full stage company, performed to perfection by a star-speckled cast. The surprise and fantastic addition of Newton Faulkner as lead Johnny certainly provides a new draw to would-be audiences. Faulkner’s voice is flawless and his musical talent undisputed, along with the other stars of the show; the belting voice of Tunny (Alexis Gerred) and the wonderfully eccentric wrathful alter-ego St Jimmy (Lucas Rush) stand out in particular.
As expected, the highlights come from the band’s best-known songs, Boulevard of Broken Dreams and Wake Me up When September Ends, which was performed by the three leads on individual guitars, and provided one of the more sombre moments to break up the blasting set pieces. The uninterrupted 90 minutes does experience a little drag at a few moments and could potentially benefit from the cutting of a few songs, but the sheer talent and energy overall makes the show a true treat.
American Idiot is on at the Arts Theatre from 8th July until 25th September 2016. Book your tickets here.