Saturday, January 7, 2012

American Idiot

Last night I checked out Dancap’s production of American Idiot, up at North York’s Toronto Centre of the Arts. If you’re a fan of Green Day, or rock musicals in general, you’d probably quite enjoy this entertaining, high-energy show that features all of the songs off Green Day’s award-winning American Idiot album (but no, it doesn’t feature any actual band members).

Like all of Dancap’s show, this one has a short run and wraps up next Sunday, January 15, so if you’re interested, get your tickets ASAP.

Both Husband and I had a good time at this show though I was a bit irritated by the ending. There’s not much of a plot, which I’m fine with; I’m glad they went with a thin plot that works with the songs rather than creating something overly complicated and clumsy; but the ending is just disappointing and unintentionally depressing.

I’ve read a few reviews about this production and more than a few people complained that the show is too polished and not punk enough. Personally, I’m glad it was on the polished side since I’m paying a fair amount to watch a proper musical, not some punk rock show in a basement.

Also, let’s not forget the source material. This production is all about a Green Day concept album, not a Bad Brains record. Had this show been too “punk rock” it wouldn’t work with the songs it was showcasing, songs that do offer plenty to discuss when it comes to the post-9/11 world, modern American life and the young men who exist in it (and since this isn’t a university paper, I won’t be discussing those things here).

The performers were all solid, though the girls easily out sang the guys. A friend of mine who saw the show last week warned me that the choreography was a bit lacking but I think it was intentionally sloppy, to make it a bit more “punk”. I think this because there were a few parts were I found the choreography quite well done and in great contrast to what we predominantly saw in the show.

Music was provided by a six-piece band that’s subtly blended into the set. While I found the conductor a bit distracting with his overally dramatic hand gestures, the rest of the band did a great job of performing songs that were changed just slightly, in order to make them appropriate for a musical. As a result, the energy and intensity of some of the songs are reduced and don’t exactly “rock out”, but considering that we’re watching a musical, and not a concert, it works.

Everyone on stage though is shown up by the excellent set design and lighting. While neither is overly complex, and the flashiest part is the several dozen various sized TVs mounted to the back wall, both aspects perfectly complement the music and tone of the show. The lightning during “Wake Me Up When September Ends” is particularly well executed.

This was my first trip to the Toronto Centre of the Arts. While this venue is far (for me) and not very attractive, our sightlines were great and so was the sound. However, the Centre could maybe turn the heat up a bit and invest in a humidifier. The air was quite cold and dry.

Would I See It Again: No. While I had fun, this isn't the type of show you need to see multiple times.
Should You See It: Fan of Rent, Hair or Tommy? Then yes.

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