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When Green Day released American Idiot back in 2004, they went on to sell 15 million copies worldwide and were catapulted from being in the pop-punk ‘minority’ to an unanticipated level of mainstream success.
Billie Joe Armstrong, clad in his signature black-shirt-red-tie-combo, became somewhat of a rock caricature overnight while sold-out stadium gigs and an extensive merchandise range became the norm.
Most surprising of all, though, was the band’s decision to theatricalize the concept album into a Broadway musical with theatre director Michael Mayer. Even more surprising was the fact the rock opera was a breakout hit, winning no less than two Tony Awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
On paper, musical theatre and punk-rock simply shouldn’t mix. While one is generally wild and unpredictable, the other is typically rigid and rehearsed with precision. It comes as a welcome surprise, then, to see that American Idiot is still defying the odds ten years after it first debuted.
The show follows the story of three childhood friends who flee from suburbia to find their own identities post-9/11. Protagonist Johnny soon finds himself walking the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, entangled in a world full of sex, drugs, drink and loneliness. His story of frustration and adolescent rebellion is as relatable today as it was back when the album was first released.
Tom Milner brings angst and grit to the show with his performance as Jimmy while former X Factor star Luke Friend nails his professional theatre debut as Johnny’s demonic drug-taking alter ego St Jimmy.
American Idiot is the kind of show where only the music does the talking. But with hits like Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) and Jesus of Suburbia in its arsenal, isn’t that a good thing?
It’s chaotic, powerful and entertaining – just like a good pop-punk musical should be.
American Idiot is currently touring the UK. For tour dates and tickets, visit https://www.americanidiotthemusical.co.uk/
Words: Amy Anderson