Green Day’s American Idiot is a coming of age story that centers around three adolescents, Johnny (Sean Garner), Will (Ian Brininstool) and Tunny (Patrick Reilly) who are gunning to leave suburbia to find themselves in a time of disillusionment familiar by a generation growing up in the age of mass media, political propaganda and a war raging in the Middle East.
The punk rock opera opened at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 30th. The 90-minute musical with no intermission was directed by UCLA’s Department of Theater chair , Brian Kite and choreographed by L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation award winner, Dana Solimando.
The production is the latest installment of the theater’s “Onstage Series,” which transforms the 1200 + seat theater into a much smaller, intimate performance space.
The musical is based on the 2004 concept LP, American Idiot by Green Day. The book and lyrics were written by Green Day’s front man, Billie Joe Armstrong and adapted for the stage by Director, Michael Mayer. The show features such hit singles as “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Jesus of Suburbia,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and the albums title track.
After a night of mindless partying, it becomes apparent that friends Johnny, Will and Tunny are discontent with their lives. The three decide to flee their hometown in search of freedom and excitement from their mundane existence. Before they leave, Will’s girlfriend Heather (Ellie Wyman) announces that she is pregnant. Will chooses to stay behind, while Johnny and Tunny set off for the big city. Once they arrive, the youths are dismayed as the lure of the “bright lights” prove as ordinary as the life they’ve left behind.
A down and out, Tunny decides to enlist in the Army and is soon deployed off to war. Meanwhile, Johnny, has a chance encounter with a young woman named Whatsername (Jordan Kai Burnett) and he begins to pursue her affections.
The three young men soon discover further afflictions. Johnny becomes engrossed by his drug dealer/alter ego, St. Jimmy (A.J. Mendoza). Back in suburbia, a disheartened Will loses Heather when she becomes fed up by his increasing apathy and Tunny sustains an injury in the war zone and delves into depression.
Sean Garner leads the incomparable cast as the anti-hero Johnny, who is the product of “rage and love.” Garner also appeared in the national tour of American Idiot. His strong vocals and comedic edge helped audiences connect with the self-destructive character. Ian Brininstool portrays Will. Brininstool also contributes his fair share of pitch-perfect vocals and musically gifted talents to the show. Patrick Reilly takes on the role of Tunny. Reilly’s understated and authentic performance captivated the hearts of the audience.
With minimal dialogue, the story is told primarily through the music, however, the video projections designed by Jonathan Infante also play an intricate part of the storytelling process and serves not only as a visual aid of the characters locations but also showcases the effects the media has on them.
Director, Brian Kite’s vision for Green Day’s American Idiot is immensely successful as he stripped down the production to it’s raw core and eliminated the boundaries between performers and audience members, instead juxtaposing the two creating an up close and personal experience.
Dana Solimando’s choreography embodied the definition of teen-angst and hyperactivity to a tee. The performers high-energy dance moves were not only fun to watch but also produced for visually striking musical numbers.
Under the musical direction of David O, the 7-piece band did justice to each of the masterfully written songs by Green Day.
This groundbreaking story may not have a traditional “happy ending” however, this production guarantees for a gripping theater experience, accompanied by the music from one of the greatest rock albums of all-time, Green Day’s American Idiot. The success of this production is the cumulation of a powerhouse creative team behind the scenes and a talented group of performers on stage with all their head banging glory!
Green Day’s American Idiot is playing at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts now through May 15th. Tickets are available by calling the box office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310 or ORDER ONLINE