January 4, 2012
Jam
Music
Movies
Television
Video
Theatre
      Actors A-Z
      Reviews

Books
Country
Celebrities




Video Gallery
RSS Feed

SJP


'Idiot' never misses a beat
By JOHN COULBOURN, QMI Agency


Jake Epstein, Scott J. Campbell, and Van Hughes in Green Day's 'American Idiot' musical on stage at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. (WENN.COM)

In Green Day's American Idiot, Dancap's Aubrey Dan has managed to slip a belated but impressive Christmas package under the tree -- one almost certain to delight the younger demographic of the theatre-going public, in particular.

They are, after all, the ones most likely to be heading into the Toronto Centre for the Arts (where a touring production of the Tony Award-winning musical opened late last year) humming the tunes to the 2004 album of the same name -- to the extent that punk rock lends itself to humming, of course.

But even if you've never heard Green Day's music and don't have much of a taste for rock musicals, this is an impressive production which never misses a beat as it brings an impressive array of theatrical magic to bear in telling the story of three disaffected slackers, at odds with the American way.

While the story revolves around Johnny (a compelling and charismatic Van Hughes, who is about to be replaced for a few shows by Canadian Gabriel Antonacci), it is wrapped up in the lives of buddies Will (our own Jake Epstein) and Tunny (Canuck Scott J. Campbell), as well.

At the outset, they are mired not only in small-town American ennui, but lost as well in the stupefying effects of late onset adolescence, it seems. In response, Will has taken root in front of the TV, Tunny has withdrawn into a taciturn world of slumber and inchoate rage and Johnny has become a serial self-abuser.

Convinced that any place is more exciting than here and now, they decide to head to the city. Will, however, soon discovers his girlfriend (Leslie McDonel) is carrying his child, and opts to stay home, leaving Johnny and Tunny to carry on.


An all-but-catatonic Tunny soon joins the military for all the wrong reasons but Johnny simply drifts, eventually falling under the influence of St. Jimmy (a chilling Joshua Kobak as the spirit of heroin), at about the same time as he falls for Whatsername (Gabrielle McClinton). Sadly, the two don't mix.

Tunney, meanwhile, heads off to war (presumably Desert Storm) and loses a leg and gains a girl (Nicci Claspell) before the shock of 9/11 brings them all back to where they started, scarred, but only slightly wiser.

Under the direction of Michael Mayer, this is a production that starts technically strong and never lets up -- a showcase, not merely for a hugely committed cast, but for the driving, almost confrontational, choreography of Steven Hoggett and the design acumen of Christine Jones (sets), Andrea Lauer (costumes), Kevin Adams (lighting), Brian Ronan (sound) and Darrel Maloney (video/projection), all powered by the musical supervision of Tom Kitt, which ties it all together.

All of which serves to underscore the real tragedy of American Idiot.

For while this little bundle from Broadway is certainly an impressive Christmas present, it seems that the batteries are not included.

Thanks to Green Day, it may possess the musical bonafides to make it memorable, but thanks to the sketchy book created by lyricist (and Green Day frontman) Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, it fails to engage in any meaningful way. Despite deeply committed work from Hughes, Epstein and Campbell, there's simply not enough story and character development to drive the narrative, and while we may develop grudging affection for these three lily-white losers, ultimately we are forced to acknowledge that they are likely to remain losers.

While the easily distracted are almost certain to be taken in by American Idiot's flash, most thinking theatre-goers, one suspects, will likely realize that, while a story about the disconnected that leaves us feeling disconnected might make for a fine punk musical, a musical about apathy that leaves us feeling apathetic is simply not great theatre -- in any genre.

john.coulbourn@sunmedia.ca

Twitter/Jcoulbourn

 
More Theatre Reviews




HOT MUSIC HEADLINES
Ethan Hawke serenades fans after play shuts down
Bono confident Spider-Man musical will survive
Monty Python will feature late cast member Graham Chapman
'The Bodyguard' musical a hit in London
'Shakespeare in Love' heading to London stage
'The Princess Bride' headed for the stage
Alanis Morissette planning Jagged Little Pill musical
Zachary Levi's Broadway stint to end
Cirque du Soleil officials remove stunt following accident
This invisible man will catch your eye
More Headlines
Aziz Ansari on social media and Netflix special
Craig impresses in Broadway's 'Betrayal'
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes play set to open
James Franco headed to Broadway
Sylvester Stallone talks 'Rocky' musical
Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz play breaks Broadway records
Bryan Cranston heads to Broadway
Stripping naked 'On the Rocks'
k.d. lang heading to Broadway
Mayor of Hartford blasts Dave Chappelle


Theatre reviews
Check out the latest theatre reviews from across Canada.

Movie Listings
Find out what's playing at a theatre near you.
TV Listings
Wondering what's on tonight? Check out our TV listings for the complete schedule in your area.






Do you think Kanye West should have the book thrown at him for fighting with a photographer?
Yes
No


Results | Story