‘American Idiot’ is gripping stage production set to music

Town Hall Arts Center hosts show based on 2004 album by Green Day


The stage at Town Hall is dark when the music starts, then nicely highlighted shadowy figures start to dance to the title song, beginning the sung-through rock opera based on punk rock band Green Day’s concept album, “American Idiot.”

Issued in 2004, “American Idiot” was first presented as a stage piece at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2009 and moved to Broadway’s St. James Theatre in spring 2010, where it ran a substantial 422 performances. At times during the run, Green Day’s vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong appeared as St. Jimmy. Armstrong and director Michael Mayer wrote the book, music was composed by the Green Day band and lyrics are by Armstrong.

Nick Sugar is director/choreographer, who makes it all work together in an entertaining 21st-century opera about three disaffected young men, “in the recent past,” frustrated with life in the suburbs, as their surrounding society is in turmoil with war, politics, drugs … (Could be today.)

The show runs 90 minutes, no intermission, with all words sung and a live band up front, led by music director Donna Debrecini.

Johnny, played by a strong Brian Robertson from Greeley, debuting at Town Hall, asks friends Tunny (Ben Fowler), also new to Town Hall, and Will (Caleb Reed), another new face, to join him in escaping to “the city.”

Will’s girlfriend, Heather (Lynzee Lee Jones) has just told him she’s pregnant, so he feels he must stay with her, but he just lives in a beer-filled depressed haze, with no interest in the baby.

Tunny goes with Johnny, but oppressed by the city, soon opts to join the Army and ships off to war. Scenes are given related dates: Feb. 6, Johnny stole money from mom’s purse for bus fare. Feb. 24, we hear a disillusioned Johnny, with guitar, sing “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

Soon, there’s a military scene when Tunny leaves for the Army. (“Are We the Waiting?”)

“Is this my life?” the directionless Johnny wonders.

Enter a riveting Matt La Fontaine as St. Jimmy, brandishing a hypodermic — bringing heroin into Johnny’s life … St. Jimmy is perched high above the action for much of the remaining performance — sending out vibes. With fairly minimal set, director Sugar makes it all work by how and where his actors perform — strong voices, tight choreography.

Johnny has noticed a girl watching from an upper window and thinks he’d like to know her … He does indeed connect with Whatsername (Faith Angelise Goins-Simmons) and St. Jimmy leads them both to drugs, but she departs the scene ...

A wounded Tunny has met The Extraordinary Girl — in an ordinary world (Sarah Harmon), his nurse, who continues to brighten his life …

Rock with this band and cast of actors-- and explore their world of unresolved issues and dreams. It’s a short trip to another world. Relevant now.

If you go:

“Green Day’s American Idiot” plays at Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Downtown Littleton, through October 7. Performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays and 9/22; 6:30 p.m. 9/ 30. Tickets $24-$44, townhallartscenter.org/americanidiot or 303-794-2787, ext. 5. (Ten seats will be made available for $10 each, on a first come first served basis one hour prior to curtain time.)


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