BWW Review: AMERICAN IDIOT at Civic Theatre Auckland

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BWW Review: AMERICAN IDIOT at Civic Theatre Auckland

Fresh from a critically acclaimed West End run and a sell-out UK Tour, Green Day's explosive Tony Award-winning rock musical, "American Idiot" opened at the Civic Theatre in Auckland last night.

Juxtaposed against the post 9/11 music of unity and healing Green Day's 2004 album "American Idiot" is a raw politically-charged narrative criticising the Bush Administration, the Iraq war and social inequity.

The visual explosiveness of this show honours the album. Delivered in true punk rock, grunge, the staging (Sara Perks) is designed for the scenes to morph into each other with the bus, the bedroom, the battleground - all transcending from one sphere of 'being' to another with clever simplicity.

The burning question; 'But will it represent/sound like Green Day?' is easily answered - yes.

The essence of Green Day has not been shoved into the 'safe mode' stage musical model; it breathes the rage, the confusion, the struggle and the senselessness of post 9/11 in an edgy package of fast-paced grit wrapped up in the sensational music of Green Day.

Expect a confronting emotional roller coaster that infiltrates on a soul-level.

Described as frenetic - it is. Intermission felt like it was 5mins in.

Centred on the legendary music of Green Day with the lyrics of its lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, "American Idiot" is the story of three boyhood friends, Johnny (Tom Milner), Will (Samuel Pope) and Tunny (Joshua Dowen) each searching for meaning in a post 9/11 world. The themes of insecurity and mistrust of society and government are well highlighted as these three friends take different paths.

Keen to experience life in the big city, they are reduced to two in number when Will's girlfriend Heather (Siobhan O'Driscoll) announces she is pregnant. He stays. However, we don't miss out on his experiences back at home.

In the city, as dreams are shattered, Tunny escapes to the army whileJohnny descends into an excess of sex and drugs with newfound girlfriend Whatsername. (Sam Lavery)

Throughout, bad-guy drug dealer St Jimmy (Luke Friend) is never far away.

Tom Milner plays a naively/lost/angry/ vulnerable Johnny; his powerful vocals deliver anthems such as Boulevard of Broken Dreams with memorable style and emotional impact.

X Factor stars Sam Lavery and Luke Friend live up to their titles and Joshua Dowen delivers a depth of strength, courage and vulnerability. Both the rock-concert style lighting (Tim Deiling, David Stone) and the inclusion of a live band on stage (Robert Wicks, Chris George, Nick Kent, and Charlie Maguire) adds to the power and authentically honours Green Day's original music.

The world was forever changed following the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. Everyone remembers where they were and the societal shift from the event has shaped today's world. This confronting show is a great reminder - amongst other things.


American Idiot
Civic Theatre
Until 20 October

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From This Author Monica Moore