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The production that I saw in Massey Theater was called American Idiot. The playwright came out in 2009 by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer. Both men wrote the scrip for the show. The original music is by Green Day with lyrics by the lead Green Day singer, Billie Joe Armstrong. The director of Robert Morris University’s version of American Idiot was Jeremy Czariak. The date of the performance was November 8, 2018. It was a great play and I really enjoyed getting to look more in depth to all the behind the scene action.
There were several things that I saw while watching this play. American Idiot follows a story of three young boys. There is the mischief-maker, Johnny, who declares himself as “Jesus of Suburbia”, as well as with his two friends, Will and Tunnys. During this play, all three men attempt to break out of their mind-numbing, careless suburban existence to seek their love for music. After escaping at the beginning of the play to the city, Johnny finds himself in love with this beautiful woman but, cannot remember her name and drug use.
Throughout the play you really see how he is struggling finding himself and him trying to access what he should or should not do. Tunny finds a sense of purpose after enlisting in the Army. During his time in the Army, he is wounded in the line of duty. He was injured both physically and emotionally. When he comes home, he tries to find himself again.
He also meets an extraordinary woman that makes him feel happy again. Meanwhile, Will, who decided to remain in the suburbs with Heather, his newly pregnant girlfriend, becomes addicted to spending his life on his couch. He is hopeless and stuck in a phase where he does not know how to help himself. He tries finding himself throughout all the alcohol and reading letters from his friends. Throughout the play, each of the men struggles to find the balance between rage and love. This is the main thing which is a conflict that defines their generation. With Green Day’s heart-pounding and vulgar songs, these men show us their ups and downs that they went through in their life.
The second thing that I wanted to notice was each actor and how they played their parts. When first walking in to the theater and looking at the stage, I was not sure what to expect. I listened to Green Day music when I was younger but just was not sure what this play was going to be about. Right as the lights dimmed and Johnny came out and threw the remote on the ground, I knew it was a grungier setting. I thought Ian Olson played Johnny very well. He really expressed how he was struggling with figuring out his life and how he struggled with drugs. He really acted his part. The second actor that I studied while watching the play was Tunny. Tanner Yake played Tunny. In my opinion, he made a lot of noticeable mistakes. For example, the one mistake he made was after the one scene was over and he was changing from his hospital gown back into his real clothes, he put his shirt on backwards. Even though he did that, the show went on and he still finished his scene. He ended up making a lot of little mistakes that made me want to stop paying attention to his character. The last main character that was Palmer Masciola who played Will. The guy that played the role of Will was my favorite. He was my favorite because his performance was almost perfect. He was fully into his character and really hit the notes in his songs. There were several mistakes that I noticed while watching the play, but there were also several scenes that the characters absolutely killed!
The next thing that I was looking at while watching the musical were the scenes, lighting being used, and sounds. The first thing that I noticed was that there was no backdrop. I have never seen a musical without a back drop, so I thought that was creative. You could tell that the storyline was more on the darker side just because of how they came out on the stage and started singing their first song. The set was also cool because there were almost four big props that were kept on stage the whole time. I enjoyed getting to see how the props were used throughout the musical. It was cool getting to see the actors and actresses singing on different levels. Also, the stage was not empty at all. Even if there was one main character on stage singing, there would still be choreography on the props. Another thing that was always happening on stage was the lights. The lights would go from a deep color to a bunch of strobe lights. The lights were used just as much as the props, music, etc. The last thing that I noticed when watching the play and looking more into the scene was how there was no backdrop. Since there was not backdrop, I enjoyed how you could see the people playing the instruments down stage. My eyes were able to keep looking around and never get bored. All in all, I enjoyed the scenes, lighting, and sounds being used.
Another thing that I looked at while watching the musical was the costumes. Since the period of the play was in the early 90’s, the clothes were all chaotic. There were several people that wore a full black outfit with heavy makeup. Some of the accessories that were used were fish nets, converse, shorts, and scrunchies. 1also I noticed that the hair on the girls was curled and teased. I thought every actor/actress dressed appropriately and matched the scene of the musical.
Looking into the concept of the musical was very interesting. The musical played more of a punk rock opera. A punk rock opera is usually the collection of rock music songs with lyrics that relate to a common story. American Idiot follows the story of Jesus of Suburbia, a lower-middle-class American adolescent anti-hero. Rock operas are typically released as concept albums and do not fall in the acting category. This is because there is usually more singing than talking. When watching the musical, it was very reflective of the teenage scene of the time. There a lot of political topics covered such mocking military propaganda and the intense heroin use at the time.
While studying the play, I noticed that there are several issues that were going on at that time. The first issue is that the main characters are against the government in the first few numbers. This is only until Tunny gets influenced by military propaganda and joins the army. Drugs are also a major issue in the show. Johnny really struggles with loving drugs but also hating them at the same time. They start taking over his life. We saw this when he fell in love with a girl but chose the drugs over her. So, there were a lot of mental issues that these three men had to go through.
All in all, I felt like this was a great musical to go and see with friends. There was a ton of great songs that were sung, instruments that were being played, as well as, great acting that was being portrayed. If I oversaw this play, I would have probably gotten another person to play the part of Tunny. In my opinion, Tanner just did not play a good enough character to pull off that big of a role. The other thing that I would have done is not played with the audience. When I go to a play, I am just there to watch. I am very awkward and shy, so I do not like when random people just come up to me and tell me to dance in front of a room full of random people. If those two issues were fixed, I feel like the play would be perfect.
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