Can pop-punk be improved by professionally trained voices and choreography? If you can get past the oil-and-water pairing of punk rock with Broadway staging, then Green Day’s American Idiot is an OK show. (Now that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is exhibiting Punk: Chaos to Couture, old-school anti-establishment authenticity seems to finally be irrelevant, anyway.) With a live band and clear-as-a-bell voices, the sound is strong and respectably loud. (It’s the first time I’ve seen The Smith Center give out earplugs.) As to whether or not you like Green Day’s rock opera, that’s a personal choice.
Regarding the theatrical bits, American Idiot has the aesthetics of Rent, but lacks the soul. Three cliché storylines don’t live up to the promise of the opening, which hints at a smart critique of Bush-era warmongering. Instead, we get blocky sketches of three American idiot friends who have aspirations beyond suburban idiocracy. One little piggy goes to war, one little piggy stays home (after knocking up his girlfriend) and the last little piggy tries to become a rock star but becomes a heroin addict instead. All the while, everybody’s just trying to hang on to what made them cool in their youth, which is, of course, youth. It’s a fine enough show, but could have as easily been made 40 or 50 years ago. ★★★☆☆