Green Day musical set for local premiere

The local premiere of “Green Day’s American Idiot,” the powerfully provocative 2010 Tony Award nominee for Best Musical, opens Tuesday at the Victoria Theatre.

The show will be presented as a special Star Attractions courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association for three performances.

Directed by Tony winner Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening”), the show follows the pulsating blueprint of the rock band Green Day’s 2004 Grammy-winning “American Idiot” album and adds tunes from the Berkeley, Calif., band’s 2009 Grammy-winning album “21st Century Breakdown.”

Green Day — frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool — broke big in the mid-1990s with its brash, infectious punk sound. Armstrong is the show’s co-librettist with Mayer.

Set against a troublesome post-9/11 backdrop, the vigorously edgy rock musical, recalling previous successes in the same vein such as “Hair,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Who’s Tommy,” scathingly tells a coming-of-age story of alienation, disillusionment and soul-searching among close friends Johnny, Tunny and Will, who are forced to choose between their dreams and the security of suburbia. Johnny (aka Jesus of Suburbia) falls in love with a girl known as Whatsername and becomes addicted to heroin, thanks to St. Jimmy. Tunny joins the military and ultimately begins a relationship with his nurse, known as Extraordinary Girl. Will reluctantly decides to remain with his pregnant girlfriend in suburbia.

“This show addresses going through life and wanting to try something new, going down a path and maybe making a mistake, and figuring out who you are in the end, “ said Jenna Rubaii, who portrays Extraordinary Girl. “It’s incredible how Michael Mayer and Billie Joe Armstrong have collaborated to make the storyline so touching and relatable. There is certainly a political aspect to the story and songs, but I think everyone at some point in their life feels stuck, and in the process, finds themselves getting into things they may regret, which is universal and easily relatable to young people these days.”

One of the most memorable aspects of the production, a highlight of the fine choreography by Steven Hoggett (“Once,” “Peter and the Starcatcher”), involves the exquisite dream sequence between Tunny and Extraordinary Girl, who perform an aerial ballet. Before the tour’s launch last fall, Rubaii said she spent three days in Las Vegas with Thomas Hettrick (Tunny) to learn basic training, which included ample flying time in the harnesses.

“It’s difficult and challenging, but as time has passed it has gotten a lot easier,” she said. “Obviously the hardest part is being hyper-aware because it is technology and little things can go wrong. But I was really excited about doing it because I love heights.”

“American Idiot” includes such numbers as “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (Grammy winner for Record of the Year), “Are We the Waiting,” “St. Jimmy,” “21 Guns,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Know Your Enemy” and the title song. Rubaii has noticed the show has appealed beyond Green Day’s built-in following despite its in-your-face nature.

“It really has been a mix because it depends on the city,” she said. “We see hardcore Green Day fans all the time, but we also have people at the stage door who aren’t Green Day fans who didn’t expect to like it, particularly older people who haven’t listened to the punk/rock genre, who really love it. But ‘American Idiot’ is such an energetic show. It gives off a distinct rock concert vibe. It’s a perfect mix between musical theater and rock, so it has something for everyone.”

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