American Idiot is on its 10th Anniversary Tour and is in town at Milton Keynes Theatre this week until Saturday. We went along to last night’s performance for the opening night of this Tony and Grammy award winning show.
The story follows three boyhood friends on their search for meaning in a post 9/11 world. They live in ‘suburbia’, bored and frustrated with life and so they head out on their own to try and make something of themselves with quite tragic consequences. The show is based around Greenday’s Grammy Award winning album American Idiot and is in the style of a punk-rock opera with minimal dialogue. Songs include American Idiot, Boulevard of Broken Dreams and Wake Me Up When September Ends.
The show is quite niche – perhaps not something your average musical fan would enjoy so I went in with an open mind, as a huge fan of Greenday (I saw the band perform this album live at The MK Bowl back in 2005). This isn’t your typical All-American-Dream, glitz and glam musical, in fact it is the complete opposite with a fair amount of hopelessness, dark and dreary settings, anarchy, sex, drugs and rock and roll. I couldn’t help but feel the show did lack a bit of ‘soul’. To see punk rock bands live (or any live music for that matter), is unlike any other experience, the sheer energy and emotional atmosphere on stage and in the crowd cannot be matched in a theatre production and acting rebellious certainly isn’t the same as actually being rebellious. However, that is where we must remember this is not meant to be a Greenday gig. This musical is its own entity, theatre productions have a whole host of their own excitements and this show has plenty of them, fans of Greenday can still thoroughly enjoy the music, lyrics and epic guitar riffs. Likewise, musical fans can enjoy something completely different and experience a taste of Greenday’s catchy songs. The cast were brilliant and all had a great stage presence for their own characters, there’s no lack of talent in this cast, great singers and performers and they all looked awesome in their costumes.
The stage set was great and it really transported you to the grubby homes and lifestyles of the characters. Having the band situated on the upper level of the set as a permanent feature throughout the show was really effective – especially as a punk-rock opera where musicians are just as important to the show as the cast. The show and music are as relevant today as they were 15 years ago when the album was first released.
The show contains lots of swearing, drug use and sexual references, so certainly not one for kids! But I would highly recommend seeing this one. Tickets available on www.atgtickets.com and the show runs until Saturday 27th April.