♩♫♪ Don’t Wanna Be An American Idiot…♬♪♩♪

“One Nation Controlled By The Media”

How are you planning to spend your 4th of July? I am going to return to the Orpheum Theatre and watch American Idiot one more time!

I remember back in the day seeing my first Green Day video (I don’t listen to the radio much) and thinking “what in the world is going on here?”  This was creepy visually, but the song is so catchy, I couldn’t change the channel. The masks that the patients wear are just *shudders*…

 I liked the music and have enjoyed watching them try out new sounds over the years.  I think any artist that doesn’t is not growing.  So when I heard there was a musical coming out featuring songs from their American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown albums, I thought this should be interesting…*raised eyebrows*

When I heard the original cast recording of American Idiot, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the same as hearing the actual band playing.  So I gave it a “its pretty good” on the How Much Do I Like This Show judgement. But then I didn’t bother to listen to it again until maybe the beginning of this year.

I was cycling through my ipod music one day and two songs from AI (Green Day version) came on.  I hardly ever get to hear Green Day when I do this.  Then the next day, I read in an email that AI was coming back to the Bay Area.  So I decided to give it another go.   The difference on this listen was that I chose not to distract myself with anything, except knitting.  I fully focused on hearing and feeling the story.

And something struck me.

This was so much better than I originally thought.  Of course it isn’t going to be the same as the band playing because it was it’s own entity.  I should have acknowledged this from the beginning and stupidly I didn’t.

Everyone has had that moment in life where they’ve felt lost or wanted something better but not sure what.  The main characters in this story are living that out in their various ways.  I think what threw me for a loop on that first listen is that some of the voices sound the same if you aren’t really paying attention.  So it didn’t quite sink in that it’s three male characters that are having this “crisis” not just one.  Oh, I think I should also note that I don’t really like to read the liner notes.  I feel that a really good musical will stand on it’s own through the songs and not need explaining.

Then when I watched the show a few weeks ago, I loved it.  The energy on that stage is amazing!  The set reminded me a little of “Rent” in regards of how little there is on stage and the variety of uses each thing has.  The band is fantastic and it’s fun to be able to see them rock out on stage as well.  The cast is incredible! To have to name everyone that was great in the show would be simply to look at the program.  I do have to make a special mention though.  I saw two understudies and they were both outstanding, so when I learned that on the next visit I would be seeing the other cast members, I thought “how much better can they be than what I just saw?”  But during the little after party, the understudies (Jarran Muse and Vince Oddo) swore that the people who will be playing St. Jimmy and Favorite Son are absolutely amazing.

I think the highlight songs in the show are “Holiday” “Favorite Son” “The Waiting” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”  For “Holiday”, it is all about the exuberant excitement of new destinations and adventures that one seeks when they set out on a new path.  The energy just fills the theatre and pulls the audience into the fun.  In “Favorite Son” the character is what makes that number and Vince Oddo had such a commanding stage presence that dancing girls were barely noticeable in their colorful dancewear.  The choreography in “The Waiting” and “Wake Me Up…” was so beautiful that I got choked up watching it.  It wasn’t that the dance itself was technically highly difficult, it was more that it was perfectly able to portray the cold harshness of the military in the first and the disorientation and loss in the latter.

I cannot wait to return to SF tonight and watch the show one more time.  I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to our country than to see a show that wants us to question “What am I doing?” and “Where am I going?”  Both similar simple questions but not so simple to answer.

And in that spirit, I’d love to challenge you, AMERICA!

What are WE doing? I see us being divided by classism, racism and inequality.

Where are WE going?  I see us allowing ourselves to be further and further divided.

How do WE fix this?

P.S. Just for good measure…

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