Tuesday, August 24, 2010

American Idiot

Two weeks ago, my eldest niece was here on her first trip to New York without her parents. She had a fantastic time. Her itinerary included seeing two musicals with me, one of which was American Idiot. She is a die-hard Green Day fan, and had already seen it several times. I liked director Michael Mayer's work in Spring Awakening a lot, so I was looking forward to it.
I understand the impulse to take existing songs and try to build them into a show. For years, a friend of mine tried to do that with Elvis Costello songs, and I was all for it. For me, the danger with that process is the show will only be as good as its weakest song. I love the title song- I think it's deeply emblematic of the late '00s (oughts? Whatever). The punkier the songs, the more I enjoyed them. But the ballads did less for me, and in the case of Extraordinary Girl, I could not wait until it was over. It was so repetitive, musically and lyrically, even the acrobatics of Christina Sajous couldn't hold my attention.
The rest of the audience didn't seem to feel that way at all. Many seemed to be big fans, singing along with the actors. Michael Mayer's staging (abetted by Steven Hoggett's choreographer) flowed beautifully, and made wonderful use of Christine Jones' set. The actors were uniformly good. I just wish they'd had better material to work with.

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