Green Day Talk “American Idiot” as Musical Debuts: On the Scene at the Berkeley Rep

September 17th, 2009 by Barry Walters Leave a reply »

Photo: Shearer/WireImage

Minutes before the official opening of Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s staged rendition of American Idiot, the members of Green Day were their usual affable selves. “I had no concerns,” Billie Joe Armstrong said to sum up his feelings about adapting the band’s rock opera disc for the stage. “I was interested and flattered to meet [director] Michael Mayer. We were floored by Spring Awakening [the 2006 Tony-winning rock musical Mayer helmed], and so there were no worries. I think this is a broader version of the album. We started with Johnny, St. Jimmy, and Whatsername, and Mayer added Will, Tunny and Heather. Your heart goes out to them.”

Meet the cast of the American Idiot musical.

Even so, Mike Dirnt confessed that he won’t be reading upcoming reviews of the show. “You can’t or else they effect how you feel about your own work,” he explained. “I learned the hard way.”

“You won’t need those,” Tré Cool advised a patron reaching for the last three earplugs in a bucket dangling from an usher.

Tré’s right. Berkley Rep’s intimate 595-seat Roda Theatre modification of American Idiot is a quieter but no less intense variation on Green Day’s arena-rocking blockbuster: The vocals from the 19-member cast are more prominent, and the lyrics more easily understood. Yet the music coming from the clearly visible five-member band that’s sometimes joined by three string players is arguably more raw than the album’s radio-friendly production: It’s got the looseness of a neighborhood garage band, and the cast strike that happy medium between raw rock & roll expression and over-enunciated Broadway slickness. The complex vocal harmonies that come together during the show’s heightened moments refle...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


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