“American Idiot” on stage is the Green Day album come to life in all its head-banging, foot-stomping, heart wrenching young adult angst. If this show comes to your town, take your teens and go. (Just beware: This show has lots of raw emotion, plenty of f-words and some simulated sex onstage.)
The traveling Broadway production is on a brief stop in Chicago with a week-long performance at the Cadillac Palace Theater. I was a guest at opening night and was sad my teen begged off because she had a school commitment. (That’s the trouble with teens these days–they’re so darn responsible that it’s tough to get them to play hooky even for something as compelling as a stage production of an album they already know by heart.)
Not only did she miss the high-energy 90-minute show, she wasn’t there to swoon over Alex Nee, the sexy Northwestern University student who is on leave from school to head the cast of this touring production.
The show chronicles the lives of three friends–one about to become a father, another heading off to war and a third in search of himself at the tip of a needle–mired in post 9/11 confusion. It’s told almost exclusively through the lyrics of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong amid a depressing industrial set.
This show premiered in 2010 and won two Tony Awards and was nominated for best musical. I dare you to watch this show and not walk out with “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” or “Wake Me Up When September Ends” or “American Idiot” playing through your head.