The first time I remember awareness of Green Day was the summer of 1994. I’d just graduated from high school, and “Basket Case” was playing on MTV. Watching it, I recall wondering why the guy I would come to know was Billie Joe Armstrong was singing with an English accent when the VJ said the band hailed from California.
That general confusion and then acceptance that this post-punk era act would end up being a band I really like but never bought any of their music applies to the American Idiot musical. It was enjoyable, entertaining and well-worth seeing once, but it isn’t a show I’m dying to see again. During the performance, in which the band is sprinkled throughout the stage, I found myself chair-dancing and being impressed with the set design, choreography, and music. However, I never got the chills I have gotten in other musicals (like Once, Next to Normal, Wicked, Spring Awakening, and even Mary Poppins) when a performer hits a note that makes you know that what you are witnessing is pure magic.
The story is based on the three young, dissatisfied, loser friends who are searching for meaning and identity aside from their less than ideal home situations. (The old lady part of me thought maybe they should get jobs or learn a trade. And GET OFF MY LAWN!) Their journeys take them on different paths, but in the end they all come back together in a mass of redemption. After seeing it I completely understood why I overheard a mother saying that she bought tickets for here teen sons to see a performance every day it was in Charlotte. As a teen I would have identified with the struggle of finding a place in the world and the associated laments. Hearing that same idea expressed with contemporary music, an amazing set and aerial dancing would have made my heart sing at that age.
By far, my favorite moment of the show was the encore, when the entire cast stood in a row across the stage, each one with a guitar, and played “(Good Riddance) Time of Your Life.” That song came out when I was a senior in college. And it made me realize that I grew up with Green Day and the show was a lot of fun, whether I own any Green Day music or not.
Tickets to the show were generously provided to me by Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. All content and opinions are my own.