Saturday, March 29, 2014

Broward Center: American Idiot (reviews)

BAA_AmericanIdiotThe national tour of American Idiot opened at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on March 25, 2014.
A critical sensation on Broadway and in London, the smash-hit musical American Idiot tells the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Based on Green Day's Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album and featuring the hits "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "21 Guns," "Wake Me Up When September Ends," "Holiday" and the blockbuster title track, American Idiot boldly takes the American musical where it's never gone before.
Michael Meyer directed a cast that included Jared Nepute, Carson Higgins, Casey O’Farrell,  Dan Tracy, and Olivia Puckett.  With choreography by Steven Hoggett.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Buried under the profligate volume and frequently unintelligible lyrics, American Idiot remains entertaining for the unflagging energy of its performance and the power of its raw material, all rooted in youth’s millennial-old anger at the despoiled world they have been handed.
American Idiot is notable on several fronts shaped by director/bookwriter Michael Mayer of Spring Awakening, Green Day lead singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, choreographer Steven Hoggett (Black Watch and Once) and orchestrator/arranger Tom Kitt (next to normal). First, the propulsive infectious score taken from the smash album and 21st Century Breakdown is, indeed, damn good music. Sometimes it’s as slashingly dangerous as a single-edge razor blade, sometimes as blunt as a sledgehammer being swung by a maniac on PCP.
Second, the lyrics, when you can hear them in the ballads, are surprisingly well-crafted, poetic and affecting, especially “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
Third, Mayer and Hoggett have infused the piece with inventive theatrical staging rooted in traditional craft. Hoggett in particular, who is a movement specialist as much as a choreographer, has created a visual style echoing the jangling physicality of people thrashing with internal angst bordering on hellfire.
It cannot be overstated that 80 percent of the lyrics, easily 80 percent, were indecipherable – ironic given the volume. For those who are not Green Day devotees, it would have helped if, like the Florida Grand Opera, the plot was sketched out ahead of time in the playbill and if supertitles were projected above the stage.
But undeniably American Idiot fairly depicts an honest cry of profound anguish that underlies its snide derision and profuse use of F-bombs. It is both an affirmation of a lifeview recognizable to its creators’ peers and an insightful field trip for anyone else who will open themselves to it.
That said, all the publicity is nonsense that this show will entertain a wide range of audience members. The only reason more people didn’t walk out was because there is no intermission and that didn’t stop some senior subscribers.
The cast, especially the dancers, throw themselves into the work with an enthusiasm and energy that makes you fear for their emotional health and their physical well-being. Standing out among the leads are Jared Nepute as Johnny and Robert Downey-lookalike Carson Higgins as the sardonic St. Jimmy. The five-piece band led by Evan Jay Newman may have the volume at 11 on a scale of 10, but they are drumhead tight.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The older folks who bailed while the show was going strong would disagree, but American Idiot is an accomplished, moving piece of 21st century theater.
The way that American Idiot has been brought to life is in keeping with Green Day’s music, edgy and insightful and of the moment. Director Michael Mayer, who co-authored the script with Green Day vocalist-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, keeps much of the 90-minute, intermission-free show flowing as frenetically as some of the more blistering music, though there are moments of lovely stillness, as when Nepute’s Johnny strums a guitar and sings When It’s Time.
The young cast is, from the outset, a powerful ensemble. A few actors push a little too hard, trying to sketch character through lyrics during fleeting moments in the spotlight. But leads Nepute, O’Farrell and Tracy are terrific singer-actor-musicians, with all those talents showcased as they sing the haunting Wake Me Up When September Ends.
American Idiot is not a typical Broadway touring show. Yes, it can be loud, but it’s also contemplative, cautionary and compassionate. And well done.
Rod Stafford Hagwood wrote for The Stunned-Senseless:
The Green Day musical “American Idiot” has more of a sensibility than an actual plot.
Now you know why we don’t subscribe to the Sun-Sentinel.  Once you strip away all of the exposition of plot, that’s the entire review of the show.
The national tour of American Idiot plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through April 6, 2014.

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