A few days ago, Vanessa and I went to see American Idiot, the punk rock musical based on Green Day‘s 2004 album, at the Berkeley Rep. I loved the album when it came out, so when I heard about the show, I immediately grabbed tickets. I’m glad I did. It was awesome.
The show followed the pattern of earlier rock opera musicals, such as West Side Story, Rent, and others, but the attitude and ambience were distinctly modern ’90s punk rock. The actors nailed the dissatisfied, disaffected, disillusioned attitude, and the sets oozed grungy urban dystopia and suburban sprawl.
The script itself was solid, and entertaining, even if it did overreach itself and lose focus at times. No matter. We went for the music, and on that score, they delivered. My music taste is pretty mainstream, but Vanessa’s been plugged into the underground punk scene for a long time, so the fact that we both enjoyed it spoke volumes.
The ensemble clearly came from a music theater background, but they did the music justice. More importantly, they were backed by a full, live rock band. They played every song from the album, as well as some from other albums and some they wrote themselves.
Beyond the show itself, the people watching was great fun. The crowd ranged from the standard blue-hair theater subscribers to punk rock kids to yuppies like me. We had a ton of fun watching them eye each other, mingle, and strike up awkward but endearing bits of conversation.
They’ve extended the show through November 15th, so if you’re interested, you can still grab tickets. It’s well worth it.