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Michael Mayer Talks AMERICAN IDIOT

Michael Meyer tells the LA Times that the most fundamental challenge he faced in the development of AMERICAN IDIOT, the Iraq War-themed new musical opening on Wednesday at Berkeley Rep, was creating a story from the 20 song Green Day album of the same title without adding a stitch of dialogue.

Meyer is no stranger to creating a musical from concept source material, as he did in turning Frank Wedekind's turn-of-the-century play into Broadway's Spring Awakening. With Spring Awakening, however, the play provided basic answers to the "who are the characters, what do they feel and why" questions. Unique to the AMERICAN IDIOT experience is creating characters and an understandable storyline from a rich album that gives very little clues. "It's my biggest fear and it's what keeps me up at night," Mayer reveals. With the help of part-time collaborator and Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong and his designers, Meyer has constructed an elaborate opus with movement, projections on 38 video screens, new song arrangements and elaborate scenery to give the audience the clear vision he sees.  Click here for the full article.  

Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced last week that it will extend the show due to record-breaking sales and unprecedented demand for seats. Originally scheduled to close on October 11, this hotly anticipated world premiere has been extended three weeks and will now play through Sunday, November 1.

Green Day won two Grammys - Best Rock Album and Record of the Year - for its multi-platinum American Idiot, which sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. Now the band brings that explosive album to the stage with the director of Spring Awakening, which nabbed eight Tony Awards in 2007. American Idiot follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East, as they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration - an exhilarating journey borne along by Green Day's electrifying songs. This high-octane show includes every song from the album, as well as several new songs from 21st Century Breakdown. With an onstage band and 19 young performers, American Idiot receives its world premiere at Berkeley Rep, the Tony-winning playhouse that launched last year's provocative rock musical Passing Strange.

The show features the music of Green Day - vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool - along with Armstrong's lyrics. It is being staged by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer, who collaborated with Armstrong on the story. Berkeley Rep presents American Idiot in association with Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman, the lead producers of Spring Awakening.

The production features choreography by Olivier Award-winner Steven Hoggett with Tony-winning composer Tom Kitt providing orchestrations, arrangements, and musical supervision. The design team includes Tony-nominee Christine Jones (sets), two-time Tony-winner Kevin Adams (lights), Baryshnikov fellow Andrea Lauer (costumes), and Obie Award-winner Brian Ronan (sound), as well as video designer Darrel Maloney. The music director is Carmel Dean and the associate choreographer is Lorin Latarro.

Tony-winning actor John Gallagher, Jr. plays Johnny, leading an ensemble of 19 young performers that also includes Matt Caplan as Tunny, Michael Esper as Will, and Tony Vincent as St. Jimmy with Mary Faber as Heather, Rebecca Naomi Jones as Whatsername, and Christina Sajous as the Extraordinary Girl.

American Idiot is supported by several contributors to Berkeley Rep's Annual Fund. Bill Falik and Diana Cohen, John and Helen Meyer, Sally Smith and Don Burns, the Strauch Kulhanjian Family, and Felicia Woytak and Steve Rasmussen serve as executive producers. The lead sponsor is Levi's®. The show is also sponsored by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation.

To purchase tickets for American Idiot, or for complete information on all upcoming shows, call Berkeley Rep's box office at (510) 647-2949 or toll-free at (888) 4-BRT-Tix - or just click berkeleyrep.org.


The world premiere of Green Day's American Idiot, staged by Tony-winning director Michael Mayer at Berkeley Rep.


(l to r) John Gallagher, Jr. and Tony Vincent star as Johnny and St. Jimmy


American Idiot Cast


Tony Award-winner John Gallagher, Jr.


Tony Award-winner John Gallagher, Jr.



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