Aaron and I went to the opening of American Idiot at the Toronto
Centre For The Arts on Thursday night. He went out of a slightly
morbid curiosity. I went because I was reared on alternative rock and
show tunes in almost equal measure, and the show seemed like it was
made especially for me.
As a rocker, I was more amused than satisfied with the production. But
as a Broadway baby, I was completely entranced.
The 90 minute musical based on Green Day’s 2004 concept album of
the same name isn’t a perfect marriage of rock ’n’ roll and musicals,
but it is a very good musical that is fueled by the spirit of rock.
Much like Spring Awakening (director Michael Mayer’s other
groundbreaking show that infused popular music with a more traditional
theatre structure) used pop to express sexual frustration and coming
of age melancholy, Idiot harnesses Green Day’s fury, frustration and
passion to tell the story of a trio of friends facing a post-9/11
Indeed, American Idiot is almost a companion piece to Spring
Awakening, or at least its angsty big sister. If Spring Awakening is a
pubescent teen flailing around, furiously masturbating and learning
about love and loss for the first time, then Idiot is on the verge of
adulthood, clad in combat boots and existential crises, writing angry
poetry about an empty world that is nothing like the one they were
The plot is bare bones to the point of abstraction (it’s really not
much more complex than the high concept pitch I tossed out two
paragraphs ago) but Idiot is more about feeling than story. And
everything from the choreography, the balls-out performances by the
cast, and the brilliant stage design really nails that essence. It’s
not quite as in-your-face as an actual rock concert, but American
Idiot is one of the most visceral musicals I’ve ever seen – although
experienced is probably a more accurate description.
American Idiot runs until January 15 at the Toronto Centre For The Arts
The cast will also be performing as part of CityTV’s New Year’s Eve