This past weekend I went to the opening night performance of the Central New York premiere musical production of “American Idiot,” at The Central New York Playhouse. This musical is based on the music of the famous rock band Green Day.
The production is awesomely music driven opting to utilize some of Green Day’s more iconic songs to tell the story in traditional dialogue and scene changes. It was thrilling musical entertainment. The cast’s energy in performances of solo and full company numbers was amazing. Watching their facial expressions was electrifying. You could really sense their enjoyment of not only having a great audience to play in front of, but their joy in performing some of these terrific songs. The choreography and never ending expressive movements in the musical numbers was infectious. Choreographer, Sami Hoerner, really did her research in making each number come alive through their bodies and expressions.
The show revolved around three main characters, Tunny (Nicholas MacLane), a solider fighting in the war for his country, a new found couple becoming parents, Will (Tyler Ianuzzi) and Heather (Natasia White), and a junkie trying to redeem his past, (Mike Gibson) a newcomer to CNYP whose character and voice is a perfect combination and energizing to see. It was an interesting twist to see CNYP favorite Josh Taylor as Saint Jimmy in a devilish dark character as he is. Director Liam Fitzpatrick’s vision of everything for this show really shined through. All of these specific character’s plot stories are intertwined very nicely as their characters face challenging situations that are thrown at them. The show manages to have an interesting political undertone to it, using television screens.
The set proved to be very innovative and interactive. Some major differences in the set designs for this production at CNYP were, an extended stage that included a long large cat walk and treadmill, which involved the cast making most of their entrances and exits. One thing to mention that I found very refreshing and a hopeful new way of involving the audiences was, angled seating. This allowed the audience to be right up close to watch everything that was happening in front of them. CNY Playhouse is known for their dinner theater table seating, but not having the tables was a successful experiment! Your eyes were captivated throughout the whole performance. The cast drew the audience right into everything very well, including, witnessing a continuous barrage of lightning speed costume changes that were creatively envisioned by costume designer Stephanie Long.
The music orchestrated by a rock band styled pit that was seen from onstage was conducted by musical director Abel Searor. Some favorite songs of mine were, “American Idiot,” “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams,” “Holiday,” “21 Guns,” and “Good Riddance,” which is included in a fun curtain call. I could not get these songs out of my head.
Overall I thought this production was a great choice for CNYP to do. It had a new found high energy which was riveting and refreshing. I found the lyrics to the songs hard to understand because of intermittent body mic audio levels, but it was not a major distraction from the piece at all. This production is highly recommended for mature audiences as it deals with subjects such as drug use, a simulated sex scene towards the end of the first act and mature language. This is not meant for the weak of heart and is not meant for young children or teenagers. The curtain call number is fun and a calming end to a pulsating show such as this is. I suggest you going to The Central New York Playhouse located at Shoppingtown Mall and cnyplayhouse.org to order your tickets online. Go see it before it closes on August 5th.