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REVIEW: "Green Day's American Idiot" at Theatre Tulsa

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TULSA, Okla. -- Green Day’s American Idiot album was adapted into a play in 2009 with music by Green Day themselves. With showings all over the world, it stopped in Tulsa for a short run at Theatre Tulsa.

The album is the perfect rebellion with a cause. Even though the song “American Idiot” is 13-years old, it is still relevant, as well as the play itself. With lyrics mentioning the new media (fake news), tension and hysteria, it’s easy to believe it was written about our current world.

As a bleeding-heart liberal in a red state, the lyric ‘I’m not a part of a redneck agenda’ gets me every time. Green Day has the same longevity with their song “Holiday” written in 2005.

One cannot forget the lyric “Another protester has crossed the line” and monuments with plastic bags over them (Confederate statues).

The story focuses on three friends Johnny (Caleb Ricketts), Tunny (Powell Barca) and Will (Thomas Williams) as they face their demons in a post-9/11, television-obsessed world.

Feeling frustrated with their go nowhere lives in suburbia, they Johnny and Tunny set off on their own while Will stays behind to care for his girlfriend and unborn child.

It is still appropriate for modern times. Many of the elements are still in the forefront of my generation’s mind. We were shaped by the Iraq War. We know the disillusion of being stuck in our hometowns; the duty we feel to serve after 9/11 and the duty to serve our families.

We juggle these desires while trying to live our ideal lives. A lot of the time, it doesn’t end up the way we pictured it.

The role of the drug dealer/manifestation of Johnny’s id, St. Jimmy (occasionally played by Green Day’s own Billie Joe Armstrong) was beautifully and wickedly played by Kaley Durland, who also choreographed the show.

St. Jimmy is the personification of drug addiction and with her slithering grace and facial contortions, Durland nailed the character.

The acting and singing went in and out. The company drifted in and out of harmony and several actors forced their lines. The band drowned out the singers and unless you knew the Green Day songs by heart, it was hard to keep up. I was only able to understand bits and pieces of the lyrics.

The biggest disappointment was the fake guitar playing by Ricketts during two of the songs, including one of Green Day’s most iconic songs, “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

He wasn’t even playing the right kind of guitar for the song, using an acoustic while the real performer used a bass.

The costumes were largely en pointe with the girls in ripped up tights and the boys in band tees and handmade adornments. There was plaid, studs, leather and flannel to spare.

As someone who lived through this era of pop culture, the performers’squeaky clean Converse sneakers was jarring to the aesthetic. The shoes needed to be beaten in within an inch of their lives with angsty song lyrics written on them in black Sharpie.

While the actresses outshined the actors (Durland, Aarika Trabona Pope as Whatshername, Marissa Hess as Heather, and Cat Maddox as Extraordinary Girl), Powell Barca as Tunny was one of the strongest performers. He sounded nearly identical to Billie Joe Armstrong and played the part of a haggard vet well.

Unless you’re a Green Day fan, you can skip American Idiot!  Listen to original the album instead or wait until you can see it with higher production quality.

Green Day's American Idiot
Friday, September 29th, 2017 10:42am to Sunday, October 1st, 2017 2:00pm
Theatre Tulsa Next Stage
412 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74103
Prices from: $32.00

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About the Author

Chelsea Copeland

Chelsea Copeland is a native Oklahoman, born in Tulsa and raised in Coweta. She graduated from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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