If you’ve ever been so frustrated you’ve cranked up the volume on a rock song, then Green Day’s American Idiot musical is worth checking out. If that song was from Green Day’s 2004 multi-platinum album by the same name, then this show is not one to miss.
The two-time Tony Award-winning, touring Broadway hit follows Johnny, played by Alex Nee, and his two buddies as they wrestle with the idea of leaving suburbia behind to chase after their dreams in the big city.
Blasting out punk rock songs with nearly acrobatic choreography, the entire cast delivers a high-energy performance that aims to show how emotions like rage and love can leave you gasping for air. To balance out the night, quieter, more pensive moments arise from acoustic renditions of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” as Johnny — quite obviously a deadringer for Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong — struggles with discovering who he is and what he wants to do with his life. “I walk a lonely road. The only one that I have ever known,” he sings as he strums his guitar. “Don't know where it goes, but it's home to me."
If you’re wondering how Green Day could pen a Broadway musical, the answer lies where punk rock angst overlaps with the kinds of existential questions most musicals like to ask. How do you accomplish your dreams? What are your dreams? Add to the mix a sense of cynicism and rebellion, and you’ve got a cathartic punk rock opera.
As expected, the show thumbs its nose at conservatism, falling in line and quiet suburban life. It asks you to push the limits, and if you can’t do that, then well, turn up the music.
American Idiot is currently playing at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for only two more nights after last night’s opening. For tickets, visit tpac.org.