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Punk rock musical adds plenty of fist-pumping
punch to sobering suburban setting

Green Day's "American Idiot"
Oriental Theatre
Chicago, IL
February 7, 2012
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Story by Andy Argyrakis
Publicity Photos

Just when it seemed like Green Day went down for the count, the punk rock trio released 2004's magnum opus American Idiot and literally became the craze of an entirely new generation. Nearly a decade later, the landmark album's legacy is still burning bright thanks to a musical rendition penned by the band's very own Billie Joe Armstrong, alongside writer/director Michael Mayer (Duncan Sheik's "Spring Awakening").

Though the 2010 Broadway debut didn't snatch a "Best Musical" Tony Award, it did take home the equally coveted Grammy for "Best Musical Show Album," which was certainly deserved. Besides boasting all the fist-pumping hits from its namesake album ("Holiday," "Jesus of Suburbia," "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends"), it also featured smashes from 2009's follow-up 21st Century Breakdown (including the even more anthemic "Know Your Enemy" and "21 Guns").

As a result, the hour and forty minute touring production was reminiscent of an actual Green Day concert, crossed with a storyline plucked straight out of modern day suburbia. Though three disgruntled teens start out as inseparable and even plan to move to the city together, individual choices quickly cause them to drift apart. Johnny falls in love with a hot girl and drugs simultaneously, Will gets his girlfriend pregnant and Tunny joins the military, much to the dismay of his pals.

For Johnny, his lust for drugs overpowers his love for women, while Will spirals into alcohol abuse and depression. Tunny also faces emotional and physical hardship from the battle field, mainly a heartbreaking leg amputation that leaves him yearning for how life used to be. All the while, songs from both albums boldly progress the story with bravado, culminating in a demon-purged reunion of the longtime friends (who realize they need each other even more than before).

While "American Idiot" is certain to appeal to Green Day fans, rock opera enthusiasts (The Who's "Tommy") and perhaps more modern-leaning theatergoers (think "Rent"), it might not strike the fancy of more traditional audiences. Aside from the explicit language, out in the open sexuality and rampant drug use, the sound volume is literally as loud (if not louder) than an actual rock n' roll show. As long as ticket buyers know what they're in for, "American Idiot" is sure to astound with its soundtrack and sober with its storyline, ensuring you'll leave feeling like you've had "The Time Of Your Life."

Green Day's "American Idiot" continues at Chicago's Oriental Theatre through Sunday, February 19. For additional details, visit or

Related articles:

Green Day (Lollapalooza) - Festival review - Chicago, IL - August 2010
Green Day - Concert review - Chicago, IL - July 2009
Green Day - Concert review - Madison, WI - May 2005
Green Day / Sugarcult - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - November 2004
Green Day - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - January 2001

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