American Idiot proves thought-provoking

A picture from one previous American Idiot concert.

Reina Katoh, Staff Reporter

“Anybody can be an idiot” is the main idea from Green Day’s American Idiot, directed by Billie Joe Armstrong, the vocalist of Green Day, and Michael Mayer, winner of the 2007  Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for Spring Awakening. The musical American Idiot is a punk rock opera which reflects post-9/11 American society, and portrays young people’s restless souls and struggles with love, drugs and the Iraq War. The Oriental Theatre in Chicago was almost full on the day of the musical. Since the musical was supported by a band, the whole show became very powerful and energetic, and because of how loud the music was, it was almost scary. The quality of the musical was good, and the performances hyped up the stage and the audience.

The musical was performed like entries in a diary, and each one was accompanied by a Green Day song. The show begins with the song American Idiot, which ironically portrays American society as people controlled by the media. The story begins with a journey of the trio: Johnny (played by Van Hughes), Will (Jake Epstein) and Tunny (Scott J. Campbell), trying to escape from their static and unfair lives in suburbia. Their dreams, however, are broken. Will’s girlfriend’s pregnancy forces him to stay in the city, Tunny is shipped off to Afghanistan, and Johnny becomes addicted to cocaine.

Each song, from Green Day’s Grammy Award winning concept album entitled American Idiot, released in 2004, and the newest album entitled 21st Century Breakdown released in 2009, portrays mental changes within the trio. The arrival of a drug dealer, St. Jimmy (Joshua Kobak) and a heroine named Whatsername (Gabrielle McClinton) seemed to have an important role in this story. The story reaches its climax with a song called Homecoming, which portrays the reunion of the trio. When they meet, the trio still have their respective problems, and they wonder if these problems will ever be solved or if this is the end of the road for them.

The story was well organized, and each song reflects a trio member’s own story. However, it didn’t destruct the original songs from Green Day. The performances of the casts were very aggressive and emotional, especially the wire action performed by Nicci Claspell and Scott J. Campbell in the song Extraordinary Girl, which beautifully expressed Tunny’s hallucinations when he was taken to the hospital due to a serious leg injury. Also, the song 21 Guns accurately and thrillingly portrayed individual emotional changes between “rage and love.”

The story is sometimes comical and sometimes sarcastic, especially for American people, since it accurately reflects young Americans’ problems and dissatisfaction with their lives. Still, it makes you think about your life and future.