The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Community

April 4, 2013

A smart show for 'Idiots'

Punk rock musical delivers powerful chords, commentary

INDIANAPOLIS — Since the advent of rock ’n’ roll, teenagers have stood in front of their bedroom mirrors turning wide, violent windmills on invisible guitars. “American Idiot” is like that, only choreographed and with jazz hands.

Adapted from the smash 2004 punk album by Green Day, the musical tells — or rather, screams — of love, anger and youth in revolt against a hyper-patriotic, post-9/11 world. That’s evident from the first overdriven guitar chord at Butler University’s Clowes Memorial Hall, where Broadway Across America’s “Idiot” opened Tuesday night.

Directed by Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening,” “A View from the Bridge”), the rock-star cast powers through track after track of the blockbuster album, whose lyrics and sneering, angsty defiance are the raw essence of Green Day front-man Billie Joe Armstrong.

Those tracks, along with some from the band’s 2009 release, “21st Century Breakdown,” back the divergent stories of three friends desperate to reinvent themselves and fly a big middle finger in the face of American suburbia.

But the characters we meet at the show’s open are too young to understand their emotions, none the less articulate them, which lights the fuse on a stomping, head-banging and very rock-and-roll temper tantrum set to the album’s title track, “American Idiot.”  

“Don’t want to be an American idiot,” screams the ensemble, backed by glowing LCD American flags and an on-stage band, directed by Evan Jay Newman (“Lovers,” “Runaway 69”). They air-guitar, fist-pump and scissor-kick around the stage, pelting the audience with accusations of propaganda, paranoia and — gasp! — media control. Yeah, sorry about that.

But what teen’s problems can’t be solved by running away from home? So, our rebellious youths pack up their stickered guitar cases and hit the road. That is, aside from Tunny (Thomas Hettrick), who’s stopped by an unexpected announcement from his girlfriend (Kennedy Caughell). Congratulations Tunny, it’s a bouncing baby ball-and-chain!

It’s only the first of the more grown-up issues “Idiot” tackles. Cue the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.

“I held up a local convenience store to get a bus ticket,” says Johnny, played brilliantly by Alex Nee (“Rent,” “The Who’s Tommy”), whose ’90s-era rage is a near carbon-copy of Billie Joe, himself,

Will, solidly acted by Casey O’Farrell (“Footloose,” “Rent”), isn’t buying it.

Johnny concedes: “Actually I stole the money from my mom’s dresser.”

Nope.

“Actually she lent me the cash,” Johnny says, defeated, before heading for the big city in a stunning, dizzying blur of kaleidoscopic lighting and Armstrong’s powerful anthems — a trademark of “Idiot’s” aesthetic genius.

Equally as genius is the cast, who seamlessly blend aggressive, charged lyrics with raw emotion. The audience alternately laughs, judges and empathizes with Johnny, as he struggles with his newly-acquired drug addiction and a lusty relationship with girl called Whatsername (played with a Pat Benatar-style angst by Alyssa DiPalma of “Realm of the Unreal”). And with Will, who struggles between two conflicting identities after he joins the “enemy” as a pawn of the U.S. military machine.

Green Day’s “American Idiot” dropped in 2004, but both the album and musical’s evocative stories of rebellion, self-examination and discovery are eternal. A must for anyone who loves rock ’n’ roll, has ever felt the pangs of youth, or who is or ever wanted to be an “Idiot.”

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

1
Text Only
Community
  • FEA - HB0728 - Fresh Orientation - SH Elwood freshmen learn the ways of high school through mentoring program About half the 112 incoming freshmen at Elwood Jr./Sr. High School got a jump on their friends recently by attending a freshman orientation session. Joan Mercer, an English teacher who helped organize the the orientation, said the mentor program, which has been in place for several years, has been effective in new students make the high school transition.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA-HB0727-MCWinery-JC6.JPG Having a wine time

    Cathy Hensley’s never been much of a drinker. It wasn’t something that interested her very much, so it seemed unfathomable that she would ever run a winery. But after her son Eric offered her and her husband, Duke, some wine he made, it changed things.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lanane among LifeStream honorees Dr. Jon Hendrix and Katie Lucas, both of Muncie; Janet Privett, Montezuma, Ohio, and Sen. Tim Lanane (D), Anderson, will be honored during a reception Aug. 7 in Muncie for their work in making a difference in the lives of aging adults and people with disabilities.

    July 26, 2014

  • Community Briefs: July 27 A compilation of community news items as published in the Sunday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 26, 2014

  • FEA HB0727 Homes 0113 Storage solution The key to creating a beautiful home on a budget is to look beyond the intended purpose of an item, and beyond its appearance. Instead, check for sturdiness of the frame, and the functionality of the components.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • What's Where: July 27-Aug. 2 Local meetings and activities are scheduled this week.

    July 26, 2014

  • Help available locally to navigate health care options If you feel like you’re drowning in the shifting sea of health care options, don’t panic: SHIP, a local Navigator and Life Stream are ready to help.

    July 26, 2014

  • FEA HB0727 Camp Chesterfield Spiritualists' home Camp Chesterfield is one of 10 spiritualist camps in the United States, and the only one of its kind in Indiana. Founded in the late 1800s, It's home to the Indiana Association of Spiritualists and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Back in the News: July 27 The Herald Bulletin looks back at stories from the Anderson Daily Bulletin and The Anderson Herald newspapers.

    July 26, 2014

  • Jim Bailey: Traveling by passenger train was a page from the past My wife doesn’t remember riding on a full-fledged passenger train as a baby. Our children have never ridden. It’s an experience rapidly going the way of the horse and buggy and the stagecoach throughout a nation now obsessed with jumbo jets and sport-utility vehicles.

    July 26, 2014

Reader Pet Photos


We're looking for your best pet photos! Share your photos of your favorite non-human companions in our new photo gallery. Click here to upload your photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin