BWW Preview: GREEN DAY'S AMERICAN IDIOT at Out Of The Box Theatre Company
Punk's not dead!
So says Out of the Box Theater Company, who brings Green Day's American Idiot to Center Stage Theater April 6-15.
Punk rock smashed into underground popularity in the 1970s, and provided the throbbing theme music to a subculture of anti-establishmentarians with intermittent anarchist leanings. Punk wasn't about "stuff": if it could be bought, sold, or coveted--that shit wasn't punk. Punk was about purity, and it existed in the space between rage and euphoria.
But a culture that burns on such frenzied fuel isn't sustainable, and the punks grew up. Their family tree of musical interpretation branched into subgenres, and intermingled with mainstream popularity. Yet the rebellious roots of the punk ethos persist despite the fact that the punk movement ended almost half a century ago. Punk speaks to kids who feel dissatisfied with the trappings of pre-determined societal "success"--this emotional distance from mainstream community leaves many feeling lost, drowning in the obligations of a conventional life.
Later-generation punk bands like Green Day put their energy toward the "overlords" of their time: President Bush and the wars in the Middle East. American Idiot was far too produced and complex to be considered a true punk album, but its clear narrative of social protest tells of the dangerous appeal of escapism: from the hollowness of addiction to the unquenchable fury of feeling betrayed by society and government. American Idiot, first as an album, and now as a stage show, uses anti-establishment messages to tell a bittersweet story of resistance and rebirth--with a driving backbeat.
American Idiot is a story from the rotting hole of cynical idealism where the punk mentality blooms like mushrooms on the coiffed lawn of the suburban straight-jacket. Out of the Box's production of American Idiot presents a voyeur's tour of this combative subculture through the lens of musical theatrical. A coming of age story for the social-media generation, American Idiot is about the disillusionment and angst of a trio of friends lost in the world. The narrative follows Johnny (Kasey Bryant), Tunny (Hunter Schwartz), and Will (Tyler Ledon), as they fight to escape the alienating tomb of suburbia to seek meaning in the wider world. They navigate the pitfalls of their live-passionate, die-without-regrets lifestyle until consequences come calling and they're forced to sell out (or buy in, depending on your point of view) to society to manage the mounting pressures of unplanned parenthood, a deadly love affair with narcotics, and the accountability that comes with military service.
Out of the Box's production, directed by Joanna Syiek and choreographed by Mitchell Webb, brings the social and political aspects of the show out of the 90s and into the modern day with more immediately relatable references showing there's still room for the spirit of American rebellion. American Idiot isn't only a guitar-thrashing indictment of the society: it's a poignant story about the void left by the loss of youth, faith, and conviction. The "happy" ending is settling for a more sustainable existence and saying goodbye to the excitement of a life with pain and pleasure only a razor's edge away. Punctuated with moments of extreme emotion, American Idiot asks questions of the cast and audience alike: Who among us are the waiting? The unknown? The brainwashed? The alienated? Are we on the verge of action? And who among us are beholden to our complacency?
Featuring: Kasey Bryant, Tyler Ledon, Hunter Schwarz, Jade Rosenberg, Melody Ricketts, Samantha Eve, Meredith LeMert, Mike Chen, Austin Escamilla, James Graham, Hunter Hawkins, Mikayla Knight, Terry Li, Marc Nicolas, Kelsey Schulte, and Zachary Allen Thomson.
Center Stage Theater