"Punk CD Goes Theatrical"
A new musical production adapted from “American Idiot,” the best-selling album by the punk band Green Day, is scheduled to make its debut in September at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in California.
Berkeley Rep is to announce Monday that the new work, also titled “American Idiot,” will have its premiere as the first production of the theater’s 2009-10 season, and run from Sept. 4 through Oct. 11.
The musical is a collaboration between Green Day — the Bay Area rock trio consisting of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool — and Michael Mayer, the Tony Award-winning director of “Spring Awakening.”
The project is also causing some shock to the band members, who acknowledge that they had grand aspirations for “American Idiot” but perhaps not quite this grand.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Mr. Armstrong, the Green Day singer and guitarist, said of this new partnership in a telephone interview, “but that’s what I love about it. When people see it, it’s going to be my wildest dream.”
Released in 2004, “American Idiot” (Reprise) was Green Day’s conceptual response to the depressing realities of the post-9/11 era; it combines bleak lyrics with bright, thrashing guitar riffs. Many of its singles, including “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and the title track, were hits, and the album went on to sell more than 12 million copies worldwide.
Among its fans was Mr. Mayer, who discovered “American Idiot” while he was still in the early stages of directing “Spring Awakening,” Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s musical about the pubescent struggles of 19th-century German youth.
“It was very much in my head all during that time,” Mr. Mayer said. “Sometimes I really would say things like, ‘Why can’t this have a groove like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”?’ ”
Following numerous victories for “Spring Awakening” at the 2007 Tony Awards Mr. Mayer and his producing partner, Tom Hulce, approached Green Day about adapting “American Idiot” for the theater. After two workshops in New York in 2008 — a summer session to try out orchestrations by Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”), and a winter session that added choreography by Steven Hoggett (“Black Watch”) — the band gave its consent for a full-scale stage production.
For now the creative team is tight lipped about how, exactly, it will translate the libretto of “American Idiot” into a narrative. As Mr. Armstrong admitted, “It’s not the most linear story in the world.”
But Mr. Mayer said, “If you read it a certain way, you can pull out a multiplicity of voices.” He hinted that a triumvirate of characters referred to elliptically in the album’s lyrics, with names like Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy and Whatshername, would likely emerge as the central characters. All told, he said, the ensemble would include 19 performers playing characters in their early 20s, though no casting has been announced.
The motherfuckers spelled "my" name wrong! Oh well.