Based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning album, American Idiot follows the lives of frustrated working class youth struggling to find their place in a society that they feel alienated from.
As in director Michael Mayer’s previous foray into the teenage wasteland, Spring Awakening, American Idiot both looks and sounds spectacular, thanks to an excellent young cast, Green Day’s many memorable songs (“When September Ends,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” etc.), Tom Kitt’s fine arrangements, and all-around terrific design elements (including Darrel Maloney’s clever video design). However, the loose concept that makes Green Day’s American Idiot album feel like a cohesive story is very weak when put up onstage, so the show is better appreciated as a staged concert than as an actual Broadway musical. Even then, it seems that American Idiot would fare better in a smaller concert-friendly venue that would allow the audience to rock along. (Or maybe the show just needs to take a page from Rock of Ages‘ book and find ways to create a more festive atmosphere.)