Theatrical presents Green Day’s American Idiot
By Michelle Thompson
I had the great pleasure of attending the opening of Theatrical’s latest offering, Green Day’s American Idiot at Chapel off Chapel.
American Idiot: a Rock Opera that follows the fortunes of three friends, who frustrated and bored with their mundane suburban lives and parental restrictions, talk of escaping to the big city, eager for their lives to begin.
Two of them, Johnny (Mat Dwyer) and Tunny (John Mondelo), depart for the city in search of adventures, while the third, Will (Ronald MacKinnon), unwillingly makes the decision to stay home when his girlfriend announces she’s pregnant.
Their lives go in three very different directions with none finding any relief or pleasure in their choices. Johnny finds love and almost immediately it is jeopardised by his escalating drug habit, Tunny seeks structure and enlists in the army but is ultimately injured in battle and Will comes to resent the new family he stayed behind for.
Bursting straight into the song ‘American Idiot’, the audience is instantly forced into a world of drinking, nudity, rampant drug use, and generally anti-social behaviour. It proves exactly why it is not a show for children or the faint of heart.
Built around the music of punk rock band Green Day, it’s loud, high energy, aggressive and an assault on the senses.
Credit must be given to director Scott Bradley for his creative vision that allows for the talent of his cast to shine through in a vibrant production that unapologetically doesn’t hold back in the way it deals with such heavy themes and he should be very proud of what they have created.
The set, designed by Yvonne Jin and Felicty Bain, is simple yet suitably grungy, exactly as this production demands. It is further enhanced by the fabulous lighting design of Jason Boviard.
The three male leads, Dwyer, Mondelo, and Mackinnon are fabulous. Each delivers the passionate, compelling and moody performance their characters demand. Dwyer captures both the cockiness and desperation of “Johnny”. Mondelo’s performance as “Tunny”, in contrast shows a vulnerability fitting of his character. The three share powerful harmonies and touching moments capturing the friendship of the characters perfectly. Their acoustic guitar trio in “When September Ends” brings chills.
The performances, from Harmony Thomas-Brown as Will’s pregnant girlfriend, ”Heather” and Tashiya Prins as Tunny’s nurse and love interest, “Extraordinary Girl”, are powerful and vocally gutsy. Will Huang as the drug puppeteer, “St Jimmy” is hypnotic and embodies the dark descent into drugs and self-destruction.
Romy MciIroy as Johnny’s big city love interest, “Whatshername” was a standout, delivering a beautiful and emotionally charged performance.
The high energy ensemble are electrifying, an exceptionally talented group of performers. Special mention must be made of Oliver Midson and Caitlyn Le who seem to draw the audience to them every time they are on stage.
Under the capable guidance of Musical Director, Tahra Cannon, an explosive cast of rock vocalists delivered tight harmonies, taking the audience on a roller coaster journey of rage and love. The onstage hard-rocking band never overwhelms the vocals and expertly showcases the angst and urgency of the songs. They had the audience dancing in their seats.
Choreographer, Grace Collins is to be commended for her high-energy choreography in a limited performance space and her use of the ensemble to enhance the storytelling.
Rage and love, those all consuming feelings that are felt with such rawness in youth, are thrillingly presented through this thoroughly entertaining journey of self-discovery. The music is intense, the cast are outrageously talented and, particularly for the Green Day fans, Theatricals production of American Idiot is certainly one not to miss!
9-26 March 2023
Chapel Off Chapel, Prahran