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Green Day's American Idiot - Review

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by Sharon Pegrum (subscribe)
Writing is my passion, I love to write for clients and guest blogs, as well as sharing our adventures here on Weekend Notes. I share my journey as I blend my own VA business and homeschooling with life in Toodyay here -
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Grunge Rock Meets Musical Theatre
Green Day's American Idiot is unlike any other live show you will see.

It is a clever blend of grunge rock and musical theatre with a thought provoking story that addresses past and current global issues in a production that hits you square in the face.

The set, with 15 screens spanning 8.5m, gives the feel of a music video and provides a backdrop that brings to life this album that signified the comeback of one of the best known bands of our time.

Splashed across these screens and the set in general is a variety of pop culture references and political commentary that give intensity to the show. The original Green Day American Idiot album was proclaimed as "punk rock opera" by the band and this live musical stays true to the original concept.

Released in 2004, the album was a commentary on the state of the world and politics at the time, whilst the US was under the Bush administration. These issues are universal and the musical addresses what seems to be the same global challenges albeit 14 years later, it appears we haven't come as far as we think.

Craig Wilkinson (Optikal Bloc), the show's video designer said "The original album was such a rallying cry in response to Bush's America. You couldn't have these characters and voices without the politics of the world then.

Fast forward to now, one might say not much has changed. I believe our work as artists is always political, whether it is a commentary (on ourselves or others) or subversive, so it's vital that we try and keep our finger on the pulse of local and global politics to help give a sense of truth to these characters and their struggles and even open the eyes a little of our audience.

Whilst a show like this should be entertaining for an audience, it should also act as a mirror to society."

And the team behind American Idiot certainly achieves this and goes one step beyond.

The finished product is an amazing achievement for the creative team which includes Craig Ilott (director), Lucas Newland (choreographer), Glenn Moorhouse (music director), Matthew Marshall (lighting designer), Josh Mcintosh (set designer), Melanie Knight (costume designer), Nick Pringadi (musical advisor) and of course Optikal Bloc (video designers).

Together the creative minds of this team have produced a show that not only does justice to the original but is a telling piece that all live theatre lovers will enjoy. You can see the heavy research that has gone into every aspect of the production and create a backdrop for the cast that allows them to bounce their own creativity off it and truly shine.

Stemming from the inspiration of the album cover and iconic heart hand grenade, it has been brought to life in a full on, at times jarring, experience.

Whilst this performance has come straight from an Award winning Broadway season, winning both Tony and Grammy Awards, the set design for this performance is all Australian. It is an original design for the Australian performance and incorporates innovative and contemporary ideas that ensure it stands apart from other musical theatre.

American Idiot certainly smashed through the idea of "musical theatre" and delivers a performance heavy on pop culture, technical genius and enjoyment.

Don't mistake this for a celebration of grunge pop; it is a dialogue on global politics as well as the transition of young adults as they make decisions that will have life long repercussions. However you probably want to at least enjoy the music of Green Day as you will be immersed in it.

With Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon) Adalita (Magic Dirt) and Sarah McLeod (The Superjesus) playing in rotation as St Jimmy, that is just the start of the talent.

As the stage lights come on you are greeted by a cast who bring to life the characters that will take you on the journey. The quintessential Aussie youths with their brashness, irresponsibility and tough choices to make were all there on stage in their realistic and sometimes confronting personas.

This cast is certainly not to be sniffed at and includes some very accomplished performers, including Connor Crawford, who played the heart wrenching role of Tunny; Linden Furnell, who played Johnny so convincingly you wanted to shake him; Alex Jeans, as the third part of the male trio, Will; Phoebe Panretos returning for her Helpmann Nominated role as Whatshername; Ashleigh Taylor as Heather, the girl we all knew in high school who had to grow up too early; and Kaylah Attard with her warmth as Extraordinary Girl.

This show is a must see for Green Day fans, however it transcends simply enjoying the music and immerses audiences in a political and cultural dialogue that leaves you questioning our world and the choices we make.

Green Day's American Idiot is playing at Crown Resort from 2 - 11 February 2018 before heading off to Sydney and the rest of Australia. You can buy tickets for all shows here
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Why? Immerse Yourself in a Punk Rock Musical
When: 2 - 11 February 2018
Where: Crown Perth
Cost: $90.69
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