Green Day musical speaks to the inner rebel

Bring out the hair dye and tattoos, Theatre Tulsa goes punk rock for their performance of “American Idiot.” The theater adaptation of Green Day’s rock album hit The Tulsa PAC Sep. 22–23, 29–30, and Oct. 1.
The cast began the reliving of my adolescent angst with the titular number. The erratic punk rock dancing was fun to watch, and the choreography, though chaotic, moved smoothly through the number.
After the initial rocking out, Johnny, the main character, gave the first dialogue. I blinked and cast had already started the next number. The choreography told the story surprisingly well, but I could have used a little more story. Musicals tend to rely more on dance and props to convey the story in general, but the work lacked dialogue even for a musical. While the effort was impressive, telling a story without much dialogue simply did not work as well as telling a story with it.
Aside from the script, or lack thereof, the music blew me away. The vocal talent was pretty good across the board, with Caleb Ricketts giving an incredible performance as Johnny. His vocals perfectly matched both the angry punk rock numbers, and also adapted well to the slow, acoustic ones. He sounded genuinely triumphant in “Holiday” and truly in love in “When It’s Time.” Powell Barca (Tunny) and Thomas Farnan-Williams (Will) also sang through “Give Me Novocain” with heart wrenchingly pure, acoustic vocals. Kaley Durland (St. Jimmy) snarled her way through her antagonist role with excellent precision. Aarika Trabona Pope (Whatsername) and Marissa Hess (Heather) hit their notes with both talent and passion.
As a fan of Green Day, the musical played to my tastes, but even someone who has never heard of them could appreciate the show. The only people who would not like it would be those that specifically do not like punk music. The loud accompaniment occasionally started to overtake the vocals, and it sometimes seemed like more of a concert than a musical. Thus, if punk rock is not your thing, you may skip this one. But for those with even a little of a rebellious side, letting go and enjoying the raucous embodiment of angst and rage against the establishment makes for a night out you would not regret. Especially given today’s events.
Green Day’s frontman, Billy Joe Armstrong, wrote most of the lyrics on the original album in a disillusionment with mass media and its relationship with the government. Most common culture today has grown weary and tired of the constant bombardment from media, specifically how it can sometimes seem more akin to reality TV. These sentiments were the inspiration for the original 2004 album, and their portrayal on theater today works well.
Releasing my pent-up rage against whatever establishment I found suitable was a fun time. The chorus climbed up props and jumped around on stage with eyeliner and dyed hair just like I had expected. But what made the musical for me were the slower numbers that told the story, especially given the lack of dialogue. Beneath the hatred and rough exterior of Johnny, one could find a human being who has regrets, goals and even a broken heart. I can honestly say that it was something unpredictable, and I had the time of my life.

Post Author: Brennen Gray