An electrifying rock opera: American Idiot by UCD Musical Society

UCD Musical Society ran an adaptation of Green Day’s jukebox musical, American Idiot, from the 20th to the 24th November. The musical follows three young men, Johnny, Tunny and Will, who are in high rebellious spirits and eager to leave home. The songs depict each boy’s individual journey as they start sobering up to realities of a life away from home.

One could feel the tension emanating from the performers as soon as you entered the performance hall. Everything, from the punk makeup and dressing of the ensemble, to the elaborate set, perfectly depicted the essence of the popular American rock band, while keeping up with the arresting theatrics and dazzling choreography the Musical Society is known for. The order of the sets is perfectly aligned to the mood, with the energy of the songs starting off with youthful negligence and wish to escape a monotonous life changing as they face adult dilemmas. American Idiot was performed with the same electricity as Green Day’s original track. My personal favourite, besides Boulevard of Broken Dreams, was the heart-strumming Jesus of Suburbia. The group’s rendition of 21 Guns was somberly appealing. With so much movement of performers and lights across the stage, you were left dazzled for a few seconds, but never lost from the act.

“The order of the sets is perfectly aligned to the mood”

Solo performances by the lead singer, Peter Richardson, playing the role of Johnny, were soulful and touching, and at times uncannily reflected Billie Joe Armstrong. The performances delivered by Morgan Moore and Ruairi Nicholl were just as powerful. Roy Geary’s intense characterisation of St Jimmy was a sight to behold. Sarah Snee, Mairead Bond and Lauren Dooley, playing the love interests of the three boys, do magnificent jobs. The dazzling dance choreography was streamlined with the whole nature of the performance, as is typical of Musical Society’s presentations. The credit for this goes to head choreographer Cliona Nic Shuibhne.

“The dazzling dance choreography was streamlined with the whole nature of the performance”

The show was captivating at times, and a sombre ballad-like act at others, all the while telling a well-known story of growing up. Gavin Molony has done a commendable directing job with American Idiot. Overall, the production was emotionally electric and I came out with a post-rock-concert/drama feel. It got well-deserved standing ovations at every performance. Special appreciation goes to the set designer’s team for an amazing stage and to the instrumentalists accompanying the performance for the post-show head-banging notes.