Green Day's album "American Idiot," released in 2004, was a multi-platinum hit that brought their pop punk music to the masses. Adapting the San Francisco-based band's game-changing album into a rock opera which landed on Broadway in 2010 was a raucous, risky undertaking.
The national tour of "American Idiot The Musical" rolls into Pennsylvania early next month with performances on March 5 at the F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, and March 7 at Bloomsburg University's Mitrani Hall, located on campus at 400 E. Second St., Bloomsburg.
Although Green Day does not appear in the Broadway production, the one-act musical features all of the songs from "American Idiot" plus several tunes from the band's 2009 Grammy-winning album "21st Century Breakdown."
Pictured is a publicity shot for the Broadway production of “American Idiot The Musical,” which will come to both Bloomsburg and Wilkes-Barre next month.
The stage production contains a narrative and the barest of plots but no dialogue. The politically charged musical follows the exhilarating journey of a new generation of Americans as they struggle for answers and meaning in their lives in the post-9/11 era.
Three young white male friends, feeling confused and alienated, yearn to leave the safety of media-saturated suburbia and head to the big city to search out their dreams.
The show's main protagonist Johnny grows increasingly erratic and deals with drug abuse, nihilism and lost love. Will stays home, bridling under parental restrictions and struggling with his girlfriend's unplanned pregnancy. Another buddy Tunny remains disaffected, joins the military and loses a leg while fighting in Iraq.
The 90-plus-minute performance, with no intermission, features an energetic handful of singers and dancers while the on-stage band plays Green Day's electrifying score.
The imaginative set - with dozens of TV monitors broadcasting clips of Bush and Cheney's snide remarks, and recognizable TV shows which focus on a specific time frame - earned the musical the 2010 Tony Award for "Best Scenic Design of a Musical."
But the trials and traumas of these three post-adolescents point to a more timeless theme of self-doubt, internal conflict and ambivalence among teenage slackers embarking on young adulthood.
The 2014 national tour is non-equity, meaning that "American Idiot" does not have to "sit down" for a minimum of eight performances although tour dates following the one-night stops in Wilkes-Bare and Bloomsburg include a week of shows in Washington, D.C.; Toronto; Atlanta, Ga.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Kirby Center has slightly fewer than 2,000 seats and Bloomsburg University's Mitrani Hall has 1,800 seats. As part of its B.U.'s Celebrity Artist Series, "American Idiot" may sell out faster than the Kirby Center as "American Idiot" has dark themes, which will likely be easier for a college-aged audience to identify with. The subject matter is "mature" with lots of heroin injections, one drug-related suicide, simulated love-making and much spewing of the f-word.
And did I say that the music is often pulsating - and always ear-splittingly loud? Reportedly, during the pre-Broadway tour on one college campus, ushers handed out ear plugs to the audience.
For tickets to the Wilkes-Barre show call 570-826-1100. For tickets to the Bloomsburg show, call 570-389-4409.