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A CurtainUp London London Review
American Idiot

"The city is burning, it's not my burden. It says 'Home is where your heart is' but what a shame , cause everyone 's heart doesn't beat the same. It's beating out of time. " — Lyric from City of the Damned
American Idiot
Amelia Lily as Whatsername and Aaron Sidwell as Johnny (Photo: Darren Bell)
American punk band Green Day brought their own rock opera American Idiot from Broadway in 2010 to London in 2012 where it was staged at a traditional music venue rather than a theatre at the Hammersmith Apollo.

Now Racky Plews, a young director known for her outstanding and thrilling choreography stages American Idiot in the Arts Theatre. The Arts is a small, grungy West End theatre which was once a theatre club where Waiting for Godot was put on in the 1950s, when the Lord Chamberlain censored it from appearing in any public theatres.

Racky's production has the seminal choreography that is so exciting and innovative and exactly right for Green Day's rebellious rock music. Most Green Day fans will know the words of the songs; just as well because in the group numbers the lyrics are delivered without attention to diction but this is so often the case in group singing. What there is, is confusion and energy and frustration as this generation growing up under the George W Bush Junior regime see an America of hypocrisy and futility and a war in Iraq that destroys American lives for nothing.

The solo singing couldn't be more of a contrast with clarity and enunciation from the six principals. Aaron Sidwell is outstanding as Mohican haired Johnny, the angry rebel who doesn't wash and whose alter ego St Jimmy (Lucas Rush) supplies everyone with heroin. His girlfriend Whatsername (Amelia Lily) can hit all the high notes in the evocative rock ballads that are delivered with crystal clear lyrics.

Alexis Gerred plays Tunny the man who sees the army as his future in a patriotic display of red white and blue. He is badly wounded and Raquel Jones is the Extraordinary Girl, the Angelic vision from his hospital bed who gives him hope. The third member of the trio of men is Will (Steve Rushton) whose girlfriend Heather (Natasha J Barnes) gets pregnant leaving Will in a mundane dead end existence holding the baby.

Judging from the crowd on opening night there are enough Green Day fans in London who will visit and revisit Green Day's rock opera nightly. They will get great guitar solos, excellent slow songs and I shall have the opportunity to compare it all next week with the original of the genre, Tommy The Who's rock opera which opens at Greenwich on 31st July.

Do look at the reviews in New York from 2010 go here for more background and a full song list and Sebastian King's review at the Apollo in London 2012 go here. .

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American Idiot
Music by Green Day
Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong
Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer
Directed and choreographed by Racky Plews

Starring: Amelia Lily, Aaron Sidwell, Alexis Gerred, Lucas Rush, Steve Rushton, Raquel Jones, Steve Rushton, Natasha J Barnes
With: Llandyll Gove, Luke Baker, Natasha Karp, Robyn mellor, Ross William Wild, Amy Anzel, Davis Brooks
Band: Mark Crossland, Alex Marchisone, Brock Eddowes, Tommaso Varvello
Musical Director: Mark Crossland
Designer: Sara Perks
Lighting Designer: Tim Deiling
Musical Supervisor: Richard Morris
Sound Designer: Chris Whybrow
Digital Director: Ashley Joiner
Running time: One hour 30 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 020 7836 8463
Booking to 27th September 2015
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 22nd July 2015 performance at the Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JB (Tube: Leicester Square)
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