BWW Interviews: AMERICAN IDIOT Touring Actor Jared Nepute Talks about the Role of Johnny

Jared Nepute plays the role of Johnny in the tour of AMERICAN IDIOT. He has learned a lot while playing the role and it has helped him as he makes plans for his future.

How did you first get interested in being in theater?

Oh, going way back. I got into in music at a young age. I was playing piano at 5 at the request of my mom. She is my biggest motivator. She heard me sing one day and thought I had a good voice so she told me I should do choir at school. It just snowballed from there. I started doing talent shows at school. Then I started doing honors choir and I started performing in the plays. Before I knew it, it was a huge part of my life and I was still undecided what I wanted to do career wise until probably junior year of high school. I was doing SINGING IN THE RAIN. I learned how to tap dance for it. I just fell in love with it and decided that this was what I wanted to do with my life. I did a summer program at NYU and got accepted just by doing the summer program. I didn't have to audition. It all really fell into place on its own which is so funny looking back on it.

What are some of the best roles you have played in the past?

That's a great question. I was Gabe in NEXT TO NORMAL. That was definitely up there. I played Anthony in SWEENEY TODD. That was awesome because that was at NYU and I was singing behind a 30 piece orchestra so it had the magnitude of the sound that you really want when you're doing a show like SWEENEY TODD. Also, I loved playing Matthew in ALTER BOYZ. That's a guilty pleasure for sure.

Tell us a little more about AMERICAN IDIOT.

It's 3 best friends, Will, Tunny and Johnny, who's my character, and they are living in post 9/11 suburbia. They are representing this disenfranchised youth who feel like they were promised this American dream and it's just not working out for them. Johnny gets this great idea for the 3 of them to move to New York City to get away from this kind of lie that they see. The problem is Will finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant so he stays behind in suburbia and then Tunny doesn't see himself in the city so he joins the war in Iraq. Johnny ends up living in New York City on his own. That's where he finds Whatshername who is the woman that he falls in love with and together they spiral into this dangerous cycle of drug addiction. The story is about these 3 men and how they find themselves over the course of the show and the different choices that they make and how it affects them and their relationships at the end of the show.

Were you a Green Day fan before you got the part?

Oh definitely, yeah. When I was a kid I listened to the "Dookie" album and I thought their sound was just so cool. I definitely appreciated Green Day. Green Day, Weezer, Blink 182.

What are some of the things you have learned by performing in AMERICAN IDIOT?

Really (laughs) too many things to even say. It's been incredible just the caliber of professionals that I've been working with as far as on the creative team even the cast members. Everyone is so good at what they do and it's incredible to have that kind of direction. When you surround yourself with high caliber people, it makes you elevate your game in a sense. I've learned so many things that it's hard to even narrow it down one specific thing.

How did you get the role of Johnny in AMERICAN IDIOT?

I started auditioning for the role in New York in May (2013) and I had something like 7 callbacks all the way from May 'til August until I officially got the role. They put me through the hoops and you have to sing, play guitar, dance, do some of the monologue. I just kept coming back and more and more people were in the room for every callback and more of the creative team saw me and put their opinions in and helped me get the role.

Did you play guitar before you got the role?

I actually started playing guitar 2 years ago. I just taught myself because luckily I had piano under my belt so that made it easier than someone who hadn't had any sort of instrument background. I've been playing for 2 years now, self-taught. I'm so glad I did.

What are some of the hardest things about playing Johnny?

The hardest part would be trying to find the line between...he says in the show, "I'm the son of rage and love." The rage aspect is supposed to represent his abusive father and the love aspect is supposed to represent his mother. I feel like it's very easy for an actor to go to an angrier side just because anger is something that's more easily accessible as an action to play. So for me it was trying to find that balance of yes I have something; I'm an angsty 20 something that felt like he's been dealt a bad life. But at the same time, there's a certain relief and release about saying all these things that I've never been able to communicate ever until right now until this moment and so there's this certain joy and love that comes out of a group of 20 actors saying this same message to the audience. It's finding that fine line between this angst and euphoria of being able to communicate this message.

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Kathy Strain Kathy Strain spent most of her life outside of Philadelphia and has enjoyed Broadway shows for most of her life. Kathy moved to San Antonio, Texas in 2001 with her husband Ken and 3 children. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas at San Antonio and runs her own Public Relations company. She loves to contribute pieces on the arts to several outlets and enjoys writing about talent and sharing it with the world.


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