Firehouse Theatre’s ‘American Idiot’ brings the classic Green Day album to life on stage this summer
Green Day fans and music lovers rejoice as Firehouse Theatre is bringing the Tony-award winning musical American Idiot to RVA this summer.
Originally a Broadway play, the musical adapted Green Day’s critically acclaimed 2004 American Idiot album into a story about three coming-of-age teens in America’s suburban wastelands post 9/11.
Associate producer at Firehouse Adam B. Ferguson talked about the play’s background, mainly it’s birth at a Berkley, CA based theatre, before hitting Broadway with a massive production. The end result is something he is particularly excited for because of his admiration for the band involved.
“I’m a huge fan of Green Day and kind of the narrative they created through their work,” Ferguson said. ”So when we were planning our seasons, I brought it up.”
For those of who that haven’t listened to American Idiot, the musical expounds on the theme of the album that delves into post 9/11 millennialis and how they deal with the world around them. “Those elements are still very much apart of the story as well as the whole element of growing up and finding yourself in this broken world,” Ferguson said.
The album was also a response to the political unrest of the time, released during an election year. Viewers might find some solace in regards to the stark similarities between the narrative then and 2016’s election year uncertainty.
“Also dealing with things like separation and addiction and just trying to find yourself and grow up from the journey from an adolescent mind to being an adult in this crazy world,” he said.
Caleb Wade, who plays bass for the performance and is part of the ensemble cast, echoed similar sentiments and as a millennial that connected with the album during its release, the musical was a full circle experience for the young actor.
“When the album first came out back in 2004, I was a freshman in high school and that was a very influential album for me,” Wade said.
When he had to revisit the album for his casting, Wade came to a deeper understanding of what Green Day tried to say 12 years ago. “It’s just really been eye-opening as far as looking at that time in terms of looking at the people who created this music and what they were trying to say with it.”
The show will center around three main characters, Johnny, Tunny and Will as they have to navigate the world they were given and somehow make the best of it.
“These guys that are living a life that they don’t necessarily fully understand and they don’t know what to do and they’re kind of lost and they all kind of go down their own past,” said Wade. “Its really about coming together at the end of the day, no matter what, you can come together as people you’ll be stronger and you’ll be able to find more sense of purpose.”
With only 10 members of the cast that all sing, perform and/or play an instrument, rehearsals and casting for the show was especially difficult this go around.
From a casting standpoint, Ferguson had to make tough decisions with extremely talented artists auditioning for the show.
“We saw a wide variety of people that had different talents both vocally and instrumentally, it was really finding the right mix for us of people that could sing as well as play the show,” he said. “There was definitely no lack of talent that came out.”
Also, rehearsing for such a tremendous role was difficult on the performers. Along with learning lyrics and choreography the cast has had to “learn the music and memorize the music they’re playing so it was like double the amount of work for them,” said Ferguson.
“This is easily the most difficult musical production I’ve ever worked on,” said Wade. He described the process as usually being simple, but this show required meshing skills previously disconnected.
“In the course of two months rehearsing this show, I’ve had to learn how to play and sing and go through blocking, staging and choreographing and thinking about acting all at the same time; it’s been the biggest crash course of my life as it comes to performance,” said Wade.
In regards to the music in the show itself, expect Green Day like never before. According to Wade, the musical takes songs from the album and changes some of the orchestration while adding different harmonies to essentially “Broadwayify” the album.
“It’s slightly different than its original album as well as there are some songs from their follow up album 21st Century Breakdown,” said Ferguson. “So it’s a mixture but the narrative that they had originally intended through American Idiot is still there.”
The cast and crew channeled the work ethic required for the musical to put on a show that will hopefully appeal to everybody.
“People who like to go to musicals or plays, you have the things that make a musical or production what it is, so you have something for that audience,” said Wade. “People that don’t see musicals, but they like going to rock concerts – this is absolutely for them as well.”
Wade described the show as a concert times 10, with minimal dialogue and a narrative being told through musical performances. “I just think it can be exciting for anyone, no matter what perspective they’re seeing the show from.”
“Anyone that’s been to Firehouse before I think when they come into this space they’ll be amazed at how this space has been transformed,” said Ferguson. ”We’ve kind of turned everything on its head.”
American Idiot will open Thursday June 23rd, then officially open June 25th and will run through July 23rd. Tickets will be $15.00 and can be purchased here.
In the midst of a politically tumultuous election season, Director James Ricks brings a fresh take on two classic pieces of writing to the Firehouse Theatre in a play contrasting two political extremes. “UBU 84,” a mash-up of the 19th century French play “Ubu Roi” and George Orwell’s 1984, is the product of Joel Bassin, [...]September 8, 2016
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