BWW Reviews: Pittsburgh Opening Night Audience Wowed by Bold Performance of AMERICAN IDIOT
One might expect the Pittsburgh audience who filled Heinz Hall on the opening night of the punk rock musical AMERICAN IDIOT to be predominantly young, hip and edgy Green Day fans. Not so. In typical Pittsburgh Cultural District style, the first night crowd seemed to be the usual mix of young adults, middle aged folks, and a fair share of senior citizens. Even a few pre-teens were present, albiet inappropriately so, as AMERICAN IDIOT's subject matter is extensively peppered with foul language, on stage sex, underwear brandishing young men and women, and unfettered drug use.
AMERICAN IDIOT, a 2010 Tony Award-nominated Best Musical and 2010 Grammy Award winner for Best Musical Show Album, features the music of Green Day with the lyrics of its lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. The book is by Armstrong and Michael Mayer and direction is byTony Award-winner Mayer ("Spring Awakening").
As evidenced by the opening night crowd immediately jumping to their feet for a rousing standing ovation at the performance's conclusion, one doesn't have to be punk-rock savvy or a have an iPod loaded with Green Day to be moved by this angsty story of three boyhood friends, each searching for meaning in a post 9-11 world. The story, told primarily by through music with a limited amount of dialogue, against a dizzying backdrop of TV screens continually flashing images and messages, barely provides the audience a mental breather as the persistent, pounding rock score stops only occasionally for more poignant moments of slower, solo segments performed with acoustic guitar.
The stellar ensemble cast will be performing this high-powered, must-see portrait of the struggles of today's youth at Heinz Hall through February 24, 2013. Tickets ($20-$62) are available at the Box Office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue, by visiting www.TrustArts.org, or by calling (412) 392-4900. Groups 10+ tickets are available by calling (412) 471-6930.
The following are images from the production:
The company of AMERICAN IDIOT (Photo by Litwin)