“Don't wanna be an American idiot.
Don't want a nation under the new mania.”
—”American Idiot” lyrics
I grew up on the angst-fueled music of Green Day. In fact, the official song for my Spanish River High School graduating class of 1998 was the band’s rock ballad "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).” Green Day’s musical American Idiot is now in the midst of its long awaited run at Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
The show, which is definitely more rock concert than Broadway shows, opened March 25 and will run through April 6. The play is based on a book written by Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and director Michael Mayer.
It centers on the tumultuous tale of three lifelong friends born into suburbia and struggling with relationships, dreams, drug addiction and responsibility. For many, the transition into adulthood isn’t easy. One of the friends gets his girlfriend pregnant, while the other goes off to join the military. The third friend ends up succumbing to his evil drug dealing alter-ego St. Jimmy. Although the dialogue in the play is sparse, the plot plays out in the lyrics like a series of music videos. There’s an especially powerful scene where all three characters show the intense battles their daily fighting to survive in “Novocaine.”
The play opens with more than 25 TV screens strewn about the stage depicting powerful images of hunger, war and pop culture distractions such as “South Park.” This is really what “American Idiot” is about—the numbing of our hearts and minds in post-9/11 America. Many of us now are too busy “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” to understand what’s really happening in our government and the governments around the globe. Goals get redirected after addictions block us from our dreams and the person who once envisioned changing the world is now changing little more than paper in a printer at a 9 to 5 desk job.
If you’re a fan of Green Day’s music, this play is a must see. The plot is difficult to follow at times since there are no breaks to ponder anything. It’s a rock rollercoaster ride that rolls for 90 minutes with no intermission. If you’re looking for a high energy show fueled by wailing guitars and mindblowing lyrics, American Idiot will ignite you. From a poignant solo rendition of “My City” to an unexpected love scene to “Last Night On Earth” where a couple acts like they are shooting heroin, this show is out right shocking at times, but perhaps that’s exactly what we need to wake us from our state of stateside complacency.
American Idiot runs through April 5 at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $34.50-$79.50 Call 954-462-0222 or BrowardCenter.org.
Contact Joanie Cox-Henry at email@example.com or follow her tweets @joaniecox.