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Davis, California

Monday, September 20, 2021

Green Day’s American Idiot the Musical

Approximately a month ago, I received an email in response to one of my last MUSE columns – specifically my rant on Les Mis the movie. Assuming that no one in the “real world” actually reads a college newspaper, my jaw dropped as my eyes slowly scanned the email.

The Public Relations Assistant for SHN Theatres in San Francisco was contacting ME after reading my apparently “impressive” column. Thinking this may be a joke email, I almost screamed a little when I saw legitimate document attached to the email inviting me to Green Day’s American Idiot the Musical opening night and VIP after-party at the SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.

Funny enough, I already had tickets to the show, two weeks after opening night. But who would pass up this rare and awesome opportunity? Not me.

On Wednesday, June 13 at 8 p.m., I found myself with tickets and invites to the after-party, sitting rows away from the stage. Tickets for shows like these can go up to $100, especially for one that has been called “the first great musical of the 21st century” by critics.

Flipping through the Playbill, I was shocked that this musical had no intermission. Yes, it had a full set of Green Day music, but apparently this night wasn’t going to be the typical Broadway night out I expected. Already I was pleasantly surprised, as sometimes the acts can run a little long.

American Idiot is a 2010 Tony Award-nominated Best Musical and 2010 Grammy Award-winner for Best Musical Show Album. It tells the story of three friends who are forced to choose between pursuing dreams and leaving the safe suburban lifestyle.

Featuring the music of Green Day with the lyrics of its lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, this musical’s book was created by Armstrong and Michael Mayer. Direction comes from Tony Award-winner Mayer, known for his work with Spring Awakening.

This musical premiered at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in September 2009 and in April 2010 opened on Broadway. It features hits such as “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “21 Guns,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Holiday,” “American Idiot,” as well as songs from Green Day’s 2009 release “21st Century Breakdown.”

Going into this experience, I was a little apprehensive. Would this musical end up being a live performance of Glee? Would Broadway butcher Green Day’s music? I’ve been a fan of Green Day since my middle school days, and although I wasn’t an avid listener, I wasn’t ready for good music to be “Glee-ified.”

This night was a pleasant surprise. In fact, most of the music represented the ideas behind the lyrics quite nicely, the set design was beautiful (I expected it to be, as it’s the work of Christine Jones, the set designer for Spring Awakening), and the album translated smoothly to the stage. This hour and a half one-act musical proved to be impressive – not only did it revive my love for Green Day’s music, but it was thought provoking and never boring.

The show runs until July 8 at SHN’s Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.shnsf.com/online/americanidiot. Tickets range in price from $31 to $100 and are available online or by calling 888-746-1799.

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