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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Review: American Idiot at Sunderland Empire


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 GREEN DAY MUSICAL ROCKS THE EMPIRE

American Idiot – the Muscial
Sunderland Empire
Until Saturday 28th May 2016

Photo: Darren Bell



We have to admit it. We love this show. We saw it in London last year and were blown away by its fresh approach and lack of compromise. (Review LINK)  Is it a gig? Is it a musical? Who cares! It is a thoroughly entertaining show. So, how did it fare when moving from the intimate confines of London’s smallest West End theatre to the much larger Sunderland Empire?

Photo: Darren Bell
Green Day have had much success through the 90s with albums such as Dookie. They went on to have a massive hit in 2004 with the concept album American Idiot. Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong explores the impact of 9/11 on the youth of America in his lyrics. The original expectation was that the story could be brought alive by a film, but the band were approached with the idea of bringing it to the stage. Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer then produced a book that relies heavily on the songs rather than the dialogue between them.

Designer Sara Perks has conceived a split level set which enables the action, and music, to flow.

Photo: Darren Bell
The show begins with a large tv set repeating the broadcasts made of 9/11.  After a number of statements by George W Bush the opening number American Idiot kicks in with 2 guitarists on the upper level and the ensemble taking advantage to swing off the fixtures and fittings.





Photo: Darren Bell
The story is largely centred three friends: Johnny, performed by successful musician Newton Faulkner, Tunny who was ably covered by understudy Cellen Chugg Jones and Will, using the talents of Steve Rushton.  They sing most of the opening numbers and their voices harmonise well.  Unable to make a go of life in their home of Jingletown, they decide to hitch the bus to the big city and a new life. Will’s girlfriend, Heather (Emma Housley) soon brings a stop to Will’s plans to join his friends when she points out that she is pregnant.

Photo: Darren Bell
Johnny and Tunny have mixed success in their new place. Johnny finds a girl, Whatsername (former X-factor finalist Amelia Lily), but gets involved in drugs thanks to St Jimmy (Lucas Rush).  Tunny has less success settling and he decides to sign up for the army, suffering the consequences of active service as a result. Whilst convalescing in hospital he hallucinates that the nurse, that he names as Extraordinary Girl (Jarrow’s Alice Stokoe), is an angel and that they fall in love.

Photo: Darren Bell
American Idiot is an adventure through the strong lyrics of the Green Day album. Director and choreographer Racky Plews presents a vibrant and lively show. There is a mix of some lively dance routines and some humour which leads to a visually exciting show.

The live band, under musical supervisor Richard Morris, is partially visible throughout the show and this helps give the show a feeling of a gig at times.

Photo: Darren Bell
Newton Faulkner is, perhaps, the biggest difference between the current show and last summer’s run in London. During numbers such as Wake Me Up When September Ends he injects his own interpretation into the material and it works.

Photo: Darren Bell
Nunthorpe’s Amelia Lily reprises her role as Whatsername and, unfortunately, only gets a few songs to show off her singing talent. However, Amelia takes full advantage during songs such as Letterbomb  and  21 Guns and seems much more confident compared to the last time we saw her.



Photo: Darren Bell

Whilst the ladies don’t get many moments in the spotlight, they do shine in those chances. Alice Stokoe, from Jarrow, celebrated her homecoming show with both Extraordinary Girl and a quick costume change.




Photo: Darren Bell
Overall the show is a rock opera for the 9/11 generation. A great ensemble pull together to deliver a collection of memorable songs from one the generation’s popular song writers. Is this the “Hair” for the 2010s? Green Day fans will not be disappointed.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR (www.jowheretogo.com). Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook www.facebook.com/Jowheretogo


Running time:                      1hr 40 mins plus interval
The show contains regular swearing and a number of scenes of drug abuse.

On The Web:
Website:                       www.americanidiotthemusical.co.uk
Twitter:                          @ukamericanidiot
Facebook:                   American Idiot UK
Instagram:                            ukamericanidiot

Tickets:
Tickets on sale now and are available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland *
*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your standard network charge. Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings

Tour:

Photo: Darren Bell
AMERICAN IDIOT - THE MUSICAL
DIRECTED BY RACKY PLEWS
UK NATIONAL TOUR

SUNDERLAND EMPIRE 24 – 28 MAY
0844 871 3022

KING’S THEATRE GLASGOW 31 MAY – 4 JUNE
0844 871 7648 





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