Calling out to idiot America! The musical based off of the Green Day album “American Idiot” is rocking the Marcelle Theatre in the Grand Center here in St Louis. Newline Theatre is known for producing edgy and hard hitting shows. This show is no exception. From the start to finish the show is a train ride that doesn’t slow or show mercy.
Full disclosure, this is one of my favorite shows. The story is very powerful, the music is amazing, and you can’t get more theatrical then punk rock. In a world where many things are being questioned this show is a generations warning to be tuned in and aware of our ability to affect change.
For me, walking into a black box theatre is a magical experience because it is different for every production. This set felt like a cramped apartment with a bed, sofa and chair covering the front of the stage. A staircase and bridge is set in the center, with a design that fit the punk club feel, along with the rows of chairs and guitars that lined the walls. Those walls covered in newspapers, band posters, and graffiti. The band is set in the left corner. The costumes had just the right amount of accessories to show the undertone of red, white, and blue.
Directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy hit a homerun with this production. In the director note printed in the program they discuss this story being a Hero Myth. I could see that very clearly with the journey from Jingletown to the City and back again being a symbol for so much more. The serious topics of the show were treated with respect and as with any good piece brought front and center for all to see. Drug addiction, family, patriotism, and self-worth were broken down with a punk rock soundtrack. I literally felt the walls shaking with the power of the band and cast during the opening number. The musicians did a wonderful job under the conduction of Sue Goldford.
Evan Fornachon (Johnny) showed an amazing range with the highs and lows of the character. Brendan Ochs (Will) and Frederick Rice (Tunny) brought layers to the friendship between the trios that I really enjoyed. Chris Kernan (St. Jimmy) vocals were truly dramatic and felt like a pied piper leading the youth. Not to be outdone the women of the cast were phenomenal. Sarah Porter (Whatsername/Costume designer), Sicily Mathenia(extraordinary girl), and Larissa White(Heather) all shone bright adding to the story of how far these characters have fallen. The show stoppers were when the whole cast would unite onstage. Harmonies were tear-jerking during ‘21 Guns’ and ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’. The ensemble acted like strong glue that brought three stories back together. Stand outs were Kevin Corpuz (favorite son) and Gabe Taylor with Camiesha Cotton, who rocked ‘too much too soon’.
American Idiot runs through March 26th. Visit newlinetheatre.com for ticket and show information. Also check out #newlinelive for a look at the show from the fans view on opening night.