Odes to Billie Jo
Green Day to Broadway: Musical American Idiot punks out Bass
Rock stars dabbling in Broadway musical magic is nothing new. Most recently, Cyndi Lauper penned the score for Kinky Boots, Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan co-wrote the music for Memphis and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong helped transform the band's monster album American Idiot into an award-winning rock opera. Next week, January 14 through January 19, the musical American Idiot promises to rip the doors off of Austin's Bass Concert Hall with its punk rock anthems.
The production follows three disillusioned friends trying to make sense of the world in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Two of the friends, Johnny and Tunny, decide to escape the doldrums of life in suburbia by heading to New York City. Will must stay behind in "Jingletown, USA" after getting his girlfriend pregnant.
“If you're familiar with Green Day, you know what you’re in for. It’s very high energy, high intensity, high excitement." — American Idiot actor Dan Tracy
“We are all pushed into a place at some point in the show where we don’t think we can go on any further,” Dan Tracy, who plays Tunny, explains. “I think the show is about hope and the ability to get through anything and realizing it’s never as bad as you really think.”
Tracy’s character eventually goes off to fight in the Middle East and is wounded in battle. “I have my left leg amputated, and my character’s journey is fighting through this. Everything is taken away from him, and the question is, can he find the hope to move on?”
From the very first note, the musical harnesses the power of Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning album to take audiences on a musical and emotional ride. “American Idiot starts, and we all become this one voice of a chorus of just anger and fear and frustration,” says Tracy. “We’re trying to piece together how to make the best out of the world and find any sort of happiness.”
American Idiot is an intense show by Broadway standards, complete with strobe lights and electric guitars — as you might expect for a show born out of a punk rock album.“If you're familiar with Green Day, you know what you’re in for. It’s very high energy, high intensity, high excitement. The choreography is very physical and athletic and sometimes angry," says Tracy. "Although punk rock is about anger, it can also be about joy.”
The show includes Green Day hits “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Holiday” and, of course, “American Idiot.” Tracy was already a Green Day fan when he accepted the role but says liking the band’s music is not a prerequisite for enjoying it.
“I think it’s a really powerful story, and it’s a really important message. It makes you reflect on life and think about the current state of the world, and I think everyone can benefit from that.”