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Green Day's American Not Quite An Idiot - But Far From Mensa!

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The ghost of Rent hangs heavily on the shoulders of American Idiot the musical.

What made the Jonathan Larson rock opera so great is serious lacking, unfortunately, from the Green Day stage adaptation of their album.

We caught American Idiot on its opening night Wednesday at the Ahmanson theater in Los Angeles, and while we did not have an awful time, we did find the show to be disappointing. It felt very one-note to us.

Angst! Angst! And more angst!

What made Rent such a well-rounded and appealing show is that it is not just about the drama in the lives of young people, but it is also a celebration! It was pathos, but it was mixed with La Vie Boheme!

That joie de vivre is sorely missing from American Idiot. It's the same reason why we thoroughly dislike Spring Awakening.

There's only so much whining we can take!

We really weren't invested in the characters, didn't care if they lived or died, but we did think all the actors were great. The staging and direction was fine, and the projections were awesome.

The choreography, however, was a big distraction. The way it was done just did not work for us. Oh, and all that strobe lighting nearly gave us a seizure! And we're not even epileptic!

Idiot's saving grace, though, is the SUPER STELLAR music by Green Day. Those songs are so much better than the show!

If it had more UPLIFTING moments - like in the encore when they sing Time Of Your Life - and if the book was majorly reworked so we cared about all the characters, the musical would be a lot more compelling!

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14 comments to “Green Day's American Not Quite An Idiot - But Far From Mensa!”



  1. 1

    You don't know anything. You seem too ignorant to see past the exterior of both those shows or maybe you're just too old to remember what it was like to be a teenager or young adult. Also both shows were directed by the multiple tony award winner Michael Mayer…so Fuck you.

    and stop saying "we" when you mean "I" its very pretentious.



  2. 2

    PEREZ, you fell asleep half way through the show… People saw this. So, can you really give a far and accurate review? I thought the show was great. In fact, the nearly 2000 people in the theater (with the exception of the old lady subscribers and their husbands) loved it. Maybe you aren't much of a theater queen?



  3. 3

    I agree completely. I saw the show in Chicago in February and couldn't wait to see it. Liked the energy and the cast obviously work their asses off but it fell short of great. Not enough dimension to care about the characters and the story is non-existent. Similar to Moving Out, when the story has to fit within existing music somehting gets lost.



  4. 4

    Anyone who can say that Spring Awakening was all angst without understanding it was a play written in the late 1800s before it ever became a musical, has no real opinion.
    In fact, because of the subject matter of sexual oppression in Germany, it was often banned. What you fail to realize, because you only ever do half your homework, is that Spring Awakening was a period piece they aded pop punk tunes to. Please, do not be so ignorant as to simply label it as Teen Angst.



  5. 5

    Thanks for the timely review, Perez. This show has been around for more than 2 years.



  6. 6

    As a musical theatre fanatic, I must say that I believe Spring Awakening to be the single greatest musical ever seen by theatre goers. It is a beautiful and tragic story first written by Frank Wedekind that soars to new heights with the poignant, brilliant music of Duncan Sheik and Stephen Sater.



  7. 7

    I wonder who wrote this review for you, because it appears you have edited this piece to appears as your own.

  8. MJB12 says – reply to this


    8

    I quite enjoyed the show but I'm biased because I'm such a huge fan of the album. I think I would have been rather confused if I didn't know the story of the album already. But I wasn't sure this was a review of the show until halfway through, I thought this was some sort of news article about the show. Just saw it last week in Denver.



  9. 9

    I saw the musical 8 times - 6 times on Broadway, and 2 times in Toronto. The fact that you're only writing a review now is funny considering it's been out since spring 2010. Yes, the story is very angsty. But in the right ways. In relatabel ways. It shows the harsh reality of life, realized through the eyes or naive youngsters. One deals with being left behind with a pregnant girlfriend while his friends go off to the big city to live their dreams. The second ends up goes off to war after falling for the glorified commercials on TV, and the third and main guy goes by himself to the big city and finds out it isn't what he expected. There's drugs, sex, and rock n roll. It's all about trying to discover what life is about and find themselves in the aftermath of 9/11. So no, it's not going to be pretty. It doesn't have the happiest ending. But it is powerful and relatable. The set is amazing (the Broadway one was so much better than the touring one, unfortunately. It was way bigger stage on Broadway), the lighting is great, the costumes, too. The Broadway cast was a lot better than the touring one, I found, unfortunately. They were still good though. The show isn't for everyone. I wouldn't recommend a whole group of old ladies go see it HAHA.



  10. 10

    Oh and the music. For one thing, the original music itself was quite amazing. But the way it was re-orchestrated for the musical by Tom Kitt blew me away. He re-worked some of those songs so damn well that I ended up thinking they were even better than the originals. Anyways, I hope this one review doesn't turn people away from the show. I personally think it was really well done. So did a lot of people I know. It's not your typical musical, that's for sure. But it is far from bad.



  11. 11

    Oh, and the musical obviously left an impression since Universal Studios and Playtone Pictures (Tom Hanks' production company - they did the Mamma Mia movie) are working on a film adaptation of it with Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (he wrote "Milk") slated for release next year. Yeah, I do agree that the musical didn't create big enough character development - but that was mainly because 95% of the show is just the music, there's very little script to it. Hopefully the feature film version will delve deeper into the characters, show their lives more, interspersed with the music - like the Mamma Mia film. That way we get a better sense of the characters and their experiences. Their experiences are pretty real, and harsh for some of them. I hope they cast little known actors (but I want Billie as St Jimmy he KILLED IT in the show) for the main characters, not Hollywood heavyweights or something…they have to be believable.



  12. 12

    Re: YouAreDumb – ahaha I wish I could insert "your argument is invalid" after everything you said. After reading your comment, that's what I heard in my head.



  13. 13

    Thank you BillieJoesentoruage for appreciating my brother's orchestrations. For whatever reason, they do not give him enough credit for these and even snubbed him in the Tony's. That was very disappointing! I hope he gets to do this kind of work again - he has "Bring it On" on tour, but I hope that the work he did on American Idiot and Next to Normal will give him similar opportunities in the future!



  14. 14

    Re: kittkat – Your brother's orchestrations blew my mind. The reworked version of "21 Guns" is what MADE ME give the whole idea of the musical a chance. As soon as I heard it, my entire mind was changed and I became a fanatic. Haha. And the musical version of "Before The Lobotomy" is chill inducing. He is very talented, I wish him the best in the future, and hope he goes on to do even greater things!!!