Birmingham Theatre: American Idiot

by Guy Halford and Laura Sumner twitter.com/guy_halford

American Idiot at New Alexandra Theatre

Until Sat 14th May

Upon its release back in 2004, Green Day’s landmark album ‘American Idiot’ was vital for its stance on the current political climate of the USA, and also for breeding new life into the concept album genre. It took pop punk to new levels never achieved by any of the artists specialising in this sound, and with that it only seems appropriate that Green Day’s 22 track opus has been transformed into an all assault on the senses live show.

L-R Lucas Rush, Cellen Chugg Jones, Alice Stokoe, Emma Housley, Lawrence Libor, Steve Rushton, Matt Thorpe, Jemma Geanaus, Karina Hind, Alexis Gerred, Llandyll Gove and Amelia Lily
L-R Lucas Rush, Cellen Chugg Jones, Alice Stokoe, Emma Housley, Lawrence Libor, Steve Rushton, Matt Thorpe, Jemma Geanaus, Karina Hind, Alexis Gerred, Llandyll Gove and Amelia Lily

The story focuses on Johnny (performed by Newton Faulkner) and his two friends Tunny and Will who are trying to figure out their path in life in the aftermath of 9/11. The running theme of the musical is the identity crisis of the American youth in the early 2000’s and their disillusionment with the state and their humdrum suburban lives. The three begin with the hope of achieving autonomy and changing the course of their lives by moving from the suburban ‘Jingletown’ to the ‘Big City’.

American Idiot
Newton Faulkner photo by Johan Persson

However, you realise it is probably not going to end well when an ominous video of George Bush launching his ‘War on Terror’ opens the show. The lives of the three young men soon go in different directions and the kind hearted but equally flawed character Whatsername (performed by X-factor star Amelia Lily) becomes the focal point of Johnny’s story and embodies his redemption. The other enigmatic character introduced in Johnny’s story is Saint Jimmy who is a repulsive drug pusher but draws everybody in through his charm and charisma. Through the catalogue of Green Day songs we see these three transform from stoner layabouts into men who have taken, or have been forced to take, responsibility for their lives.

American Idiot The Musical - UK Tour - Matt Thorpe (Johnny) - Photo by Darren Bell 1
Matt Thorpe (Johnny) – Photo by Darren Bell

Comprising of excellent performances from acoustic troubadour Faulkner and the powerful voice of Lily, director Racky Plews provides incredible visuals that support Green Day’s story of suburbia, war and growing up.

At times, the stage show looks like a live stage performance of a Gregg Araki film, with a many number of doomed generation X’ers taking to the stage trying to find their place in the world. The show cleverly manages to tell the story of ‘American Idiot’ through both exciting song and dance numbers; and is a fine example of a cross over piece. With a show this strong, maybe this should be a push for more classic concept albums to make it to the stage.

Cast of American Idiot, The Arts Theatre
Amelia Lily, American Idiot, The Arts Theatre, London

American Idiot is at New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 14th May.


Guy and Laura were given press tickets to American Idiot and this is their own work.

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