Okay, first things first. Before you read the rest of this review, listen to this Green Day song below.
Now if you didn't enjoy that song and the punk vibe, then you're probably not going to like this musical. However, if it takes you back to your teenage angst years and you find yourself wanting to rock along with it then read on...
In 2004, punk rock bank, Green Day, released the concept album American Idiot. It was a politically-charged album released post 9/11 at a time where Islamaphobia was rife, people were worried about the influence of media on public perception, and the US president, George W. Bush, was prone to public gaffes. What a difference a decade makes.
Photo by Dylan Evans
In 2009, director Michael Mayer, of Spring Awakening fame, collaborated with the lead singer of Green Day, Billy Joe Armstrong, to translate the album onto the stage. The musical takes the songs from the original album and links them together through the story of three angsty American males wishing to break out of suburban monotony and wanting to make it in the big city. After delusions of grandeur we find Will, played by Alex Jeans, stuck at home with an unwanted baby, Tunny, played by Cameron MacDonald, joining the army and Johnny, played by Ben Bennet, turning to drugs to escape with the help of his rock-and-roll drug-dealing alter-ego, St Jimmy, played by the Living End's Chris Cheney. Phil Jamieson from Grinspoon will be trading places with Chris Cheney as St Jimmy from the 29th February onwards. All the male leads were excellent singers and musicians, often playing guitar live on stage while nailing the rock ballads.
Of the three female leads, only one is given a name. Heather, played by Ashleigh Taylor, is Will's pregnant girlfriend and was a stand-out singer. Johnny and Tunny also pair off with "Whatsername", played by Pheobe Panaretos, and "Extraordinary Girl", played by Rowena Vilar respectively, showing that political correctness had not yet fully taken hold in 2009. Despite this, the overall theme and setting is still very fitting for today's political landscape and the production took full advantage of this, working in Trump imagery and slogans into the musical.
As with all Shake & Stir Theatre Co. productions, the show was of high quality. The set design was excellent and the visual animations were a joy to watch. One thing I love about this musical is that the band are featured on stage during the show, which makes it feel like a rock concert at times.
If you're a fan of Green Day then do yourself a service and go see it before it's sold out. It's also not often Brisbane gets a musical theatre premiere (we usually lose out to Melbourne or Sydney), so make sure to show your support. Tickets are $89 - $99 with discounts for students and school students. The musical is playing at the QPAC Playhouse.