A powerful performance from an amazingly energetic cast
American Idiot opens with a punch, quite literally, as Plews’ stomping choreography accompanies a rousing rendition of the title song. It’s actually difficult not to stand up and join in, as teenage memories come flooding back and the visceral energy of the ensemble hits you square in the face. In fact, throughout the production Plews’ choreography packs so much punch that you wish it was on a slightly larger stage to be able to breathe a bit more.
Lawrence Libor’s Johnny seems tame at first, coming across as a timid lost-boy until “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, where he pops the audience in his palm with a voice uncannily similar to Billy Joe Armstrong’s. Accompanied by hooded figures in skewed neon paint, this number was particularly memorable. Alexis Gerred provides stellar support as Tunny, with rasping vocals that are perfectly at home in this rock musical, and his duet with Karina Hind, “Extraordinary Girl”, was a high point of the show.
American Idiot rocks along nicely, but amps up the volume on the entrance of Lucas Rush as the catastrophic St Jimmy. From here, the action becomes more fast-paced, more dangerous and picks up on a disillusioned post-9/11 America. Rush’s voice is impressive and he compliments Libor’s Johnny nicely, providing some truly stirring scenes. Amelia Lily’s “Whatsername” may not appear often, but her performance of “Letterbomb” certainly leaves a mark and it’s clear that she’s at home in this musical.
Situated above the cast on the rafters is the band, whose presence on stage definitely adds to the overall anarchic feeling, as a metal grate is pulled to and fro to hide and reveal them. And when you can see the band enjoying the music, it makes the entire audience start to jig in their seats. It’s a powerful performance from an amazingly energetic cast, proving that no matter how much time passes, American Idiot remains as pertinent as ever.
Reviewed by Susannah Rose Martin.