Last week I went to see American Idiot: The Musical at Hammersmith Apollo. Unsurprisingly, the show is based around Green Day’s American Idiot album and was written by Billie-Joe Armstrong along with Michael Mayer.
The story follows the life of three boyhood friends, Johnny, Tunny and Will who all take different paths as they make the decision to leave their home town. Will gets trapped at the last minute when his girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant. Tunny gets caught up in Uncle Sam propaganda and joins the army and Johnny succumbs to charismatic drug dealer, St Jimmy.
With limited dialogue and the music being provided by a live band onstage, it is an absolute explosion of energy. The constantly evolving set works around dozens of constantly flashing and blaring TV sets and the cast are physically and vocally talented.
While it is without question a very enjoyable show, one can never quite get around the naffness that is inherent in musicals – the wildly exaggerated movements and facial expressions… the kind of “jazz-hands” effect that no amount of flesh-baring, cursing or alternative hair sculpture can quite cover up. I think for those who love musicals, this is part of the charm but for me it delivers a cringe factor that I just can’t banish. I also felt somewhat disappointed that there wasn’t much of a resolution to the story. It ended… I think with hope… but it was hard to be sure.
Overall as musicals go, this is an outstanding production but if you’re not a fan of musicals don’t expect the fact that it’s Green Day to completely win you over.