Los Angeles Theater Review: AMERICAN IDIOT (National Tour at the Ahmanson Theatre)

Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: AMERICAN IDIOT (National Tour at the Ahmanson Theatre)

by Harvey Perr on March 31, 2012

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours

WHICH AMERICAN IDIOT ARE YOU?

American Idiot - Los Angeles Theater Review - Green Day – directed by Michael Mayer – review by Harvey PerrIf you know and love Green Day’s studio concept album on which it is based, American Idiot is the show for you. If, like me, you are a stranger to the original material and like to savor the lyrics in a theater and not have them turn to slush amidst the uproar of the loud and insistent music, then American Idiot is not for you.

Objectively, American Idiot has a propulsive kinetic energy, a young cast that seems willing to do anything  (including flying, if necessary), a score that occasionally (as in the case of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”) builds its songs from the bottom up instead of thrusting them into instant crescendo, choreography that is sexy and vibrant, direction as skillful as it gets, and a lighting design (by the always brilliant Kevin Adams) that is genuinely mesmerizing.

American Idiot - Los Angeles Theater Review - Green Day – directed by Michael Mayer – review by Harvey PerrBut, for one reviewer, at least, the brilliance of Michael Mayer’s direction has the suspicious odor of the formulaic; there is nothing in American Idiot that we haven’t seen before in Spring Awakening, in which similarly dazzling theatrical moments were in the employ of much more original material and which seemed, then, infinitely more inventive. Steven Hoggett’s dances are thrilling in execution, but they evoke, through their codified gestures, a kind of narcissism, separating the performers from the audience rather than bonding them to the audience. It doesn’t help that the characters seem to be representations of certain types and not real people, so that all the frenetic goings-on cannot hide the fact that not much is going on that we haven’t seen before.

American Idiot - Los Angeles Theater Review - Green Day – directed by Michael Mayer – review by Harvey PerrWhat we are following is the trajectory of three suburban youths. One of them stays in the suburbs and is forced to marry the sweetheart he has impregnated; as expected, he becomes a rather bored stoner. The second moves to the big city where he becomes addicted to the hard stuff that destroys the relationship he has with the “Extraordinary Girl” who initially feeds his addiction. The third goes to Iraq and comes back with one leg and the nurse that comforts him. So, you can see, there’s a little bit of Hair in it, a little bit of Rent, even a little bit of A Farewell to Arms, and a whole lot of what we have learned to identify with rock musicals. And as well as the cast brings all of this to life, a certain show-biz savvy creeps into it stealthily until, by the end, it takes over. Finally, it is hard to tell what is authentic and what is pure glitz.

I do know that once our three heroes see the error of their ways, the sentimental outcome seems too easily achieved and proves ultimately that, for all its new-fangledness, American Idiot is, morally and theatrically, pretty old-fashioned. But, oh, those lights! They glitter and gleam so. And they kept this reviewer awake.

American Idiot - Los Angeles Theater Review - Green Day – directed by Michael Mayer – review by Harvey Perrphotos by Doug Hamilton

American Idiot
presented by Center Theatre Group
Ahmanson Theatre
ends April 22, 2012
for tickets, visit CTG

national tour continues into 2014
for cities and tickets, visit American Idiot

Comments on this entry are closed.