American Idiot – The Grand Opera House, Belfast
If you know me by now and you have read my theatre reviews over the past couple of years. You will know I love to gush about musicals and when I really love a production I can’t wait to sit down and write about it.
However American Idiot has stumped me, In a good way. I don’t know how to put this amazing production in words.
I am a big Green Day fan, they remind me of my teenage hey day, the vibe and beat of their punk songs with amazing rifts and political undertones I can’t help but sing and dance along to. So when I saw this production in the Grand Opera House programme for the year and that it was coming on my birthday I was very excited. But also apprehensive I wasn’t sure how their rock punk tunes could translate into a musical.
But from the opening note, I was electrified and the smile spread across my face. It was loud, it was funny and it was emotional almost like a Green day gig but with so much more love,fear and tears. Well known Green Day songs featured; my favourites being; Holiday, Are We The Waiting, Give Me Novacaine, Boulevard of Broken Dreams and the emotional rendition of 21 Guns.
The story is set post 9/11 and features three male friends (Johnny, Tunny and Will) who all want to escape the suburbs. The story follows the consequences of their life choices, the impact of the media, the impact of their peers, society and politics.
The big names selling the production are Amelia Lily (X-Factor finalist) and musician Newton Faulker. Faulkner did not appear on Wednesday night but instead was replaced by Lawrence Libor. However I did not feel that this was a bad thing Lawrence put in a gutsy emotional and physical performance as Johnny and his voice pulled at my heart strings. Amelia played the love interest to this wayward Romeo (Whatsername) and she played it with conviction and her famous rock tone blew me away.
I also must mention the actor who plays St. Jimmy an adventurous loud, abusive manifestation of a drug-filled life. Having read that this was the role taken on by Billie-Joe Armstrong (lead singer of Green Day and co-writer of the production) these where big shoes to fill. Every moment he popped up on stage the whole tone and pace of the piece changed.
Overall this piece was amazing! A must see in my opinion. The ensembles voices, choreography and energy is something to be seen. The live rock band just added to the intensity. The songs are violent loud and perfectly sung and the set is like a Green Day album cover come to life.