Theater Review: Green Day’s American Idiot

Van Hughes (Johnny), Joshua Kobak (St. Jimmy) and the company of American Idiot. Photo By: Doug Hamilton

Green Day’s American Idiot opens at the Ahmanson Theater but is it worth your time and money?


Green Day’s American Idiot opened Wednesday night in downtown Los Angeles, Ahmanson Theater. The sold out theater waiting in anticipation as the curtain went up and the title song, “American Idiot” played by the band on stage and we get introduced to the characters and the story begins.

The story is of three people that there lives take different paths to redemption in this coming of age musical. A musical that reflects the modern US society in the last decades or two.

We are introduced to the lead character Johnny (aka The Jesus of Suburbia) played by Van Hughes who starred on Broadway opposite Green Day’s lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong.

Then we are introduced to Will played by Jake Epstein and Tunny played Scott J Campbell. They are three friends looking to leave their suburban town to grow and find the world but each of them take different paths. Will stays with his girlfriend heather played by Leslie McDonel. Their path leads to him having a family and regrets never leaving his town and living life.

Tunny path takes him into the military to fight in Iraq which eventual leads him to pain and sorrow from the war he fights for his country. In the recovery while other soldiers are passing away he is saved by an angel known as The Extraordinary Girl played by Nicci Claspell that gives hime the strength to find his way home.

Then Johnny takes the path of drug abuse and a carefree world finding eventually the love of his life, Whatsername played by Gabrielle McClinton. Though during his path he meets the antagonist St. Jimmy, played by Joshua Kobak, drug dealer who leads Johnny down a path of abuse and eventually losing the girl he loves that eventually loses the girl he loves and ends with Johnny reflect on the love he lost.

The musical starts off slow but speeds up and gives the view of three lives that are affected by love, drugs, war,

Gabrielle McClinton (Whatserame) and Van Hughes (Johnny) in American Idiot. Photo By: Doug Hamilton

society and the world around them. Trying to find their way in similar to what many had experienced in the last decade. Green Day’s American Idiot is a rock view of what the world was like through the lyrics of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool. Two new songs were also added one of them being, “Too Much Too Soon that was included in the deluxe release of the American Idiot album and “When It’s Time.” A song that Billie Joe Armstrong wrote to his wife Adrienne when he was 19-years old and was placed in the show at a point in which Johnny tells Whatsername while sleeping how much he loves her.

Overall, it is a truly a modern musical and one of the best rock operas/musicals in sometime. Is it amazing? No, it does need a stronger beginning and sometimes you get lost in the amazing music and lose sight of the story. Then at the end leaves you wanting more, also hard to feel any emotion for the characters through the performers are very good. The shows run time is one hour and forty minutes with no intermission.

Though with its faults it succeeds in so many levels by the end of the performance. For an encore the cast returns to play the Green Day song, “Time of Your Life”, a great ending to a night at the theater.

Which left me walking out reflecting how good the songs of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown are in telling a story in the genre of great rock operas such as The Who’s Tommy.

The ticket prices start at $25 but during the day a raffle will be held every day to auction off 30 tickets in the first two rows for $30. On the days they have a matinee they will conduct two auctions. Green Day’s American Idiot runs at the Ahmanson Theater thru April 22. It will return to Southern California on May 29 for eight performances at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa.

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Michael Sandoval

Michael created MUSE/MUSE TV after a career in professional sports and journalism. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended Don Bosco Technical Institute in which he studied Electronics and Computer Science and California State University, Fullerton in which he graduated with a degree from the College of Communication in Journalism. He is a big Foo Fighters fan, loves Star Wars and loves photography.

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