American Idiot: High-energy production saves the show.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

American Idiot, music by Green Day, lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong, book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, University of Ottawa Musical Theatre Society, directed by Storm Davis

American Idiot bursts onto the stage into the raucous noise of punk rock that one of the cast members says in her bio takes her back to her fifth grade grunge days. The 2010 musical is based on the 2004 concept album of the same name — incorporating protest against the war in Iraq, anger with American society and disaffected and angry youth trying to escape (from what?) to find a purpose in life.

The book (if that’s not too strong a word) for the very slight story line by lyricist Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer focuses on three young men — one who joins the army and is blinded, a second who fathers a child and drowns in alcohol and a third self-destructive would-be rebel whose father predicted he would never amount to anything.

The sing-through (shout-through) musical about dead-end lives and disappointment is surprisingly upbeat as presented by the University of Ottawa Musical Theatre Society.

The main reason is the high quality of the production from director/choreographer Storm Davis and musical director Peter Grant Mackechnie, who deliver a high-energy show from the well-coordinated ensemble.

The cast’s enthusiasm gives an extra burst of power, despite the fact that the music and singing are frequently so loud that the lyrics are impossible to understand through the noise. Only in solo numbers such as Patrick Teed’s Whatsername or Hilary Peck’s Dearly Beloved can the voice and presentation quality be appreciated.

Movement is another story. As choreographed by Davis, dance and stylized action are the beating heart of this show. Kudos to dance captain Tama Knight and to the eye-drawing presentation by Alianne Rozon.

Simply put, the vibrancy of the production more than compensates for the somewhat unappealing material.

American Idiot played at the University of Ottawa to January 22.

Director/choreographer: Storm Davis

Music director: Peter Grant Mackechnie

Asst director: Rachel G. Moore

Lighting: Mathieu Roy

Costumes: Kellie MacDonald

Cast:

Johnny……………………………………………….Patrick Teed

St. Jimmy……………………………………………Cameron Jones

Whatsername………………………………………..Justice Tremblay

Tunny……………………………………………….Cody Zulinski

Extraordinary Girl…………………………………..Tama Knight

Will………………………………………………….David Jeffery

Heather………………………………………………Hilary peck

Favorite Son………………………………………….Jason Wong

Dance captain………………………………………..Tama Knight

Dance ensemble: Jade Gregoire, Donna Monbourquette, Alexandra Poblete

Alianne Rozon

Ensemble: Dylan Abrames, Noah Aquino, Dustin Cook, Alexa Hupé, Julie Landriault, Jesse Levy, Gaëlle Muderi, Brandon Nguyen, Bryn Orth-Lashley, Katie Redwood, Jason Wong

Band:

Peter Grant Mackechnie (keyboard) Joshua Baxter (guitar) spencer Sterling (guitar) Zach Miner (bass) Jeff Haga (drums) Emma fleet (violin) Aidan fleet (cello) Ian Richardson (viola)


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