Last month I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket to go and see Green Day’s American Idiot Musical at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, and I enjoyed it so much that I thought I’d write up a review for you guys just incase you were considering going to see it yourselves. But, um, life got kind of busy and the post ended up sat in my draft folder for ages. I’m so sorry! But, as they say, it’s better late than never. So here it is. I hope you enjoy it.
AMERICAN IDIOT PLOT
Set in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, American Idiot tells the story of 3 dissatisfied young men – Johnny, Will and Tunny – living unhappily in a place called ‘Jingletown’ in the USA. One day they decide that enough is enough, and they’re going to get out of their hometown and find somewhere new to live. But of course nothing ever runs smoothly, and the boys run into a major hiccup before they’ve even left town — Wills girlfriend is pregnant! He decides to stay behind to help bring up the child and Johnny and Tunny leave without him.
Once they arrive in the city, the pair look for some meaning in life and hope to find excitement in their new found freedom. But Tunny soon realises that life there isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He joins the military, and is shipped off to war, while Johnny turns to drugs and makes a move on a girl he sees in an apartment window.
As the story progresses Will’s girlfriend gives birth to their baby, Johnny and the girl from the apartment window (whom he calls ‘Whatshername’) hook up and have passionate sex and Tunny gets shot and wounded on the battlefield. Things get very intense from this point and each of the guys has to find a way to deal with the hand they’ve been dealt. I don’t want to say much more than that as I’d hate to spoil it for anyone planning to go and see it!
MY THOUGHTS ON THE AMERICAN IDIOT MUSICAL
I was so excited on the night of the show. I’ve been a big fan of Green Day ever since I saw them live at V Festival back in 1998. I love every single one of their songs and the American Idiot album (which the musical is based on) is one of my favourites.
I settled down in my seat and waited in anticipation for the show to start. And as the cast launched into the first song (which just happens to be the title track), I felt my heart sink a little. I’m still not entirely sure what I’d been expecting, but I guess it was for the lead singers to sound just a little bit more like the guys from Green Day. I thoroughly enjoyed the dance routine that went with the track though – it was well thought out and the whole cast seemed to have a ton of energy.
It was half way through the second number (Jesus of Suburbia) that I realised I’d really gotten in to the show. I was totally gripped by the story playing out in front of me, and I loved how the stage was set up as well. It had multiple levels for different locations, which meant we could see what was happening in each different place at the same time, without it becoming confusing for the audience. The costumes were perfectly punky, and I love that Whatshername wore a black and red outfit that matched the sleeve of Green Day’s American Idiot album perfectly!
There was even a live band on stage throughout the whole performance, with ex Son of Dork bandmate Steve Rushton (who plays the part of Will) joining them on the top level of the set with his guitar on several occasions. They didn’t distract from the scenes being played out on stage though, which I was pleased about.
On the night I saw the show Cellen Chugg Jones played the part of Tunny, and I just have to say that he was absolutely fantastic. His character loses a leg during battle and I genuinely believed that he was in agony. My mouth went dry and I felt a little faint as he writhed around in pain. It was an Oscar winning performance!
In fact, the whole cast were brilliant! I have to be honest and say I didn’t recognize many of them, but I did know of X Factor finalist Amelia Lily, who played the role of ‘Whatshername’ and singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner, who had pretty much just taken over the role of Johnny when I saw the show. Faulkner seemed more comfortable singing solo whilst playing the guitar than he did during the other numbers, but he seemed to settle in to the role more as the show went on.
I have to say though that my favourite character just had to be St Jimmy, played by the fabulous Lucas Rush. And judging by the cheers he got at the end of the performance, I wasn’t the only one whose heart he stole that night! Rush has the most amazing stage presence and even though St Jimmy is supposed to be a bit of a rebellious character I think he comes across as more of a lovable rogue. I can’t imagine anyone else ever playing that role now!
The one thing I did notice about the American Idiot Musical was that there isn’t much dialogue in it. If you’ve ever listened to the Green Day album of the same name you’ll have noticed that it tells a story from start to finish, and I think it’s thanks to this that the show just doesn’t need padding out with lots of speaking parts.
I was also happy to find that the story I’d imagined the American Idiot album to be about when I first listened to it 12 years ago was pretty much how it played out on stage. I think that shows just how brilliantly the songs were written.
THE SET LIST
As you’d imagine, the musical features every single track from Green Day’s American Idiot album, as well as 5 tracks from 21st Century Breakdown (Last of the American Girls, Before the Lobotomy, Know Your Enemy, 21 Guns and Last Night On Earth) and 3 songs written especially for the musical (Favorite Son, Too Much Too Soon and When It’s Time).
The musical ends with the fabulous Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) where the whole cast come on to stage and sing whilst playing their guitars. This went down a treat in Nottingham, with the whole audience on their feet singing along.
Overall I thought the American Idiot Musical was absolutely brilliant, and I would most definitely go and see it again. I think the casting was perfect and it was clear from the moment they set foot on stage that each and every one of them enjoyed being a part of the show. They most definitely deserved the standing ovation they received at the end of the performance.
I really don’t have a bad word to say about it if I’m honest! The only thing I would warn you about is that there is quite a bit of bad language and scenes of a sexual nature in the show, so it’s definitely not one to take your kids to. Stacey’s a bit annoyed about that as I’ve gone on and on about how fab it was that she now wants to see it for herself. Oops!
The show is currently running at the Arts Theatre in London until September 25th 2016, and tickets for the shows can be booked by clicking here.
Are you a Green Day fan? And have you ever seen the American Idiot Musical?
Let me know in the comments below!
*Ticket purchased with my own money