Since its release, Green Day’s iconic ninth album “American Idiot” was begging to be made into a musical. A rock opera about a disillusioned teenager in the Iraq War-era is perfect stage material.
Boston University’s musical theater group, BU On Broadway, only further proved that with their performance of “American Idiot,” which opened Thursday. Sarah Gibson, a sophomore in the College of Communication, directed the production along side Musical Director Samantha Uzbay, a sophomore in the College of Fine Arts. The production contains all the “rage and love” of the original, and was boosted by the talents of the main cast and ensemble.
“American Idiot” tells the tale of three small-town teenagers who have plans for a greater life, and the tribulations they go through trying to find it. Johnny (Nick Neville, a COM sophomore) wants to get out and find something more exciting in the city. Tunny (Zachary Treichel, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences) follows, but overwhelmed by the city, he joins the army. Will (Simon Kienitz Kincade, a sophomore in COM) stays behind to take care of his girlfriend, Heather (Abby Shannon, a CAS senior), and their expected child.
The story bounces between the three men, focusing on one or two main characters at a time. The main focus is Johnny, who struggles with his relationship with Whatsername (Izzy Weinberg, a freshman in COM) and his crippling drug addiction. The energetic and destructive drug dealer, Saint Jimmy (Hugo Lindsay, a CAS freshman), fuels Johnny’s impulses.
The supporting cast and ensemble provide the voices of the rest of the disenfranchised youth of America. They go through pain, loss, addiction and destruction by trying to find their places in life and, possibly, a happy ending.
The story is rarely mentioned throughout the production, which is how the plot should be. The few times during Johnny’s diary entries the story is revealed, but are eaten up by the rest of the show leaving the majority of the plot to be guessed by the audience.
The main reasons to see “American Idiot” are the cast and live band. Neville, Treichel and Kincade provide a rebellious heart and soul to the disenfranchised main characters. Their performances give depth to the songs and highlight their characters’ journeys.
Weinberg’s explosive delivery of “Letterbomb” makes Whatsername more than just a nameless love interest. Lindsay is practically perfect as the impulsive Saint Jimmy, thanks in part to his insane laughs throughout the second act.
More importantly, the ensemble further adds energy and rebellion to the performance, serving as an amazingly diverse Greek chorus. Each character gets time in the limelight, making the audience wish for more and more.
The live punk-rock band, a staple of the musical since its inception, is just as awe-inspiring at BU as it would be on Broadway. Some standouts were Ciaran Wilkie, a freshman in the Berklee College of Music on guitar and Alec Dakin, a sophomore in COM as the on-stage acoustic guitarist. Each musician in the pit provided great performances to an already incredible band.
While it may be slightly confusing in terms of plot, “American Idiot” is filled to the brim with energy and passion in its songs, cast and music. BU on Broadway brings it all the way up to an 11 out of 10. “American Idiot” is certainly one of the best ways to cap off this semester’s theater season.
Disclaimer: Nick Neville is a writer for The Daily Free Press sports section.