Green Day to Bring American Idiot to the Stage

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Berkeley punk rockers Green Day will adapt their multi-platinum, Grammy-winning, catnip-for-angst-ridden tweens album American Idiot to the stage, just in time to open Berkeley Repertoire's 2009/10 season. The musical will be the first for the vaunted Berkeley Rep's new, swanky Roda Theatre, a fitting choice for Green Day, some of Berkeley's most celebrated citizens (including Counting Crows and young hippies who love to sit in trees all day). 

The musical will be directed by Michael Mayer, whose 2007 play, Spring Awakening, won eight Tony Awards that year, including Best Director and Best Musical. The possibilities for the musical are endless, and it is an intriguing choice for stage adaptation -- yet one that comes with quite a crew surrounding it.

The following excerpt from the press release tells it better than I could possibly imagine, so enjoy:

Mr. Mayer and Green Day, along with Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett, recently completed a workshop of American Idiot in New York, which was also produced by Berkeley Rep. The show includes every song from the album, as well as several new songs from Green Day's upcoming release, 21st Century Breakdown. American Idiot will run from September 4 through October 11, opening Berkeley Rep's 2009/10 season in the state-of-the-art Roda Theatre. A limited number of seats go on sale today at berkeleyrep.org starting at only $32. Lower prices and prime performance dates are available as part of a subscription to Berkeley Rep's bold season, which also features five other hot new shows.

American Idiot follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East, as they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration "an exhilarating journey borne along by Green Day's electrifying songs." As Time described the album, "You will hear a story about Jesus of Suburbia, his dangerous friend St. Jimmy, and a heroic girl called Whatsername, who are struggling to express their individuality in a mass-media culture." This high-octane show will blend an onstage band and an ensemble of 19 young performers with what Newsweek calls "a soundtrack for anyone disillusioned by millennial America." Yet, Time concludes, "For an album that bemoans the state of the union, it is irresistibly buoyant."

Well, the expected cornball inherent in nearly all American stage productions will, unfortunately, most likely not escape American Idiot (Who else can see characters for both Jesus of Suburbia and Whatshername? Yikes). The concept, however, is fresh and interesting, and I am very curious as to see how it will be received once it gets going this fall. They have plenty of talent already surrounding the production, so it's up to Mayer and producers Tom Hulce and Ira Pittleman to not botch things. The Who's Tommy it is not, but we will have to wait an see where American Idiot ranks in the pantheon of rock operas.

For more information on Green Day, visit greenday.com.

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