MusicalNorth WestReview

American Idiot – The Palace Theatre, Manchester 

Music: Green Day

Lyrics: Billie Joe Armstrong 

Book: Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer 

Director: Racky Plews

Reviewer: Victoria Morris

In an age where jukebox musicals are dominating the theatrical scene, political frustrations are openly expressed within the media and mental health is (and rightly so) an open topic of conversation, Selladoor’s current UK tour of American Idiot seems somewhat surprisingly fitting within today’s society.

The story follows, Johnny and his two friends, Will and Tunny as they pursue to break out of their boring, humdrum world. Each of the men struggles to find the balance between rage and love- a battle that defines their generation.

With music by the incomparable Green Day, this production screams (and quite literally so) American punk rock. Tom Milner fronts the show as Johnny with an addictive edge, and takes the audience on a real journey, something which isn’t usually seen within a production of this nature. The commitment to the truth of his storytelling is particularly impressive and is matched with second to none vocals. X Factor’s Luke Friend’s intense portrayal of St Jimmy is a powerful representation of the internal demons one may face in life. It is significantly refreshing to see a celebrity who isn’t professionally trained within the musical theatre genre, match the calibre of the seasoned professionals. Siobhan O’Driscoll is a strong presence within the chaos of the show as Heather, leading the women of the company with force and class; a true ‘triple threat’.

The ensemble nature of this show is really one to note, as the energy and stage presence each cast member holds really packs a punch for the audience. The opening number, for example, is the perfect way to grab audiences attention from the get-go, and this cast does just that. As well as this, they are gifted with superb choreography from Racky Plews. The style both compliments and adds depth to Billie Joe Armstrong’s strong messages he portrays through his music. The choreography continues the storytelling, which is much needed within a piece such as this. The set and lighting further continues to interpret these messages of the show through its design and compliments the production as a whole impeccably.

However, one question that is currently being raised within the theatre and arts community, is the amount of exposure and opportunities women are able to access within the industry. This production doesn’t necessarily adhere to this movement. The women in this particular show, although a definite highlight, aren’t given the exposure needed to match the male characters. The males get an in-depth exploration of character though brilliantly written songs, but the females only get one real chance at this in Letterbomb. It poses the question, are more female writers/artists/creators needed within the genre, to make and create more work for the women portraying the story on the stage?

Regardless of this, this show is a great way to spend your evening. Despite its occasional late lighting cue and some sound level issues with microphones, if you love punk/rock, you will certainly love this provocative, wacky and thought-provoking production.

Runs until 6th April 2019 | Image: Mark Dawson

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The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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