Reviewing American Idiot: Pass the Ibuprofen

This week, the Mr. and I had a rare date night. We went to dinner and a show, just like real grown-ups do. Granted, it was a Tuesday night, but hey, we’ll take what we can get. We took in the Tony-award winning musical, American Idiot, at Clowes Hall on the campus of Butler University (sidenote: Selena and I saw Les Miserables, as well as Cats at this theatre many moons ago). I knew American Idiot was based on the Green Day album by the same name. I knew some of the songs from American Idiot, including “American Idiot,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I have to say, no preconceived notions would really do American Idiot justice.

The backdrop for the show is a wall of television, flashing messages throughout the show. The rock band was situated on stage for the entire performance, rather than in an orchestra pit. Flashing strobe lights and LOUD music. The first few minutes of the show were really disorienting. Many young people were singing and dancing angrily around the stage (I sound like I’m eighty, I know, but I’m creating a visual here). The very loose story line revolves around three friends waiting for their lives to begin. One chooses the Army, one chooses the city (and drugs) and the other stays right where he is when he learns his girlfriend is pregnant.

The next 90 minutes follows these young men and their misadventures, the story being pushed along through song. It’s not anything like your standard musical – there’s no intermission, no song that resonates through the show, and dialogue is non-existent. There’s also a lot of underwear and crotch grabbing involved – I’m pretty sure someone left the theater each time someone new came out in his underwear.

Through the course of the show, there are many beautiful moments, quiet ballads that stood out to me because other parts of the show were so, so loud. My favorite part though, was the encore, when the entire cast grabbed guitars and sang, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”

American Idiot isn’t for everyone, but for Green Day fans, fans of cutting edge theatre, and fans of loud music will really enjoy it. I’d be sure to bring some ibuprofen next time.

7 thoughts on “Reviewing American Idiot: Pass the Ibuprofen”

  1. Bf and I saw this in Chicago. We were in the second row of the lower balcony and the two older people in front of us were kind of blocking our view. They were gone by the first F-bomb dropped and we had a perfect view. It was much better than I expected (bf is a huge Green Day fan, so I saw it for him) and I got a lot out of it. It gave you a lot to think about without trying to pound a message into you. And the staging was fantastic.

    1. I’m a HUGE Green Day fan, so I was always going to love this (and I did, I went to NY specifically to see it when it was there, and then saw it when it came to Chicago.) But I agree with you, the staging was FANTASTIC. I think it’s one of the things that really makes this musical stand out even for people who aren’t Green Day fans. I’ve never seen any stage show do so much with VERTICAL space (especially in the NY staging,) it was amazing.

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