Friday, June 17, 2016

Green Day’s American Idiot—Triangle Productions!—NE Portland

This is Not the Life I Ordered

This musical is written by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, with lyrics by Armstrong, music by Green Day, directed by Donald Horn (Triangle’s Artistic Director), Musical Director & Conductor/Keyboard, Jonathan Quesenberry and choreography by Sara Mishler Martins.  It is playing at their space, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (parking lot to the West of the bldg.), through July 2nd.  For more information, go to their site at www.trianglepro.org or call 503-239-5919.

As one gets older (more mature?), it is not unusual to look back and wonder what happened to all those plans one had for their Life.  This musical is about that.  It has elements in common with The Rocky Horror Show, Hair, Rent and even, The Wizard of Oz (yes, you heard me right, Dorothy must go over the Rainbow before she can discover “there is no place like home.”).  It is the Journey, not necessarily the Destination that is important.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Johnny (David Cole) is growing up in Nowheresville, with his two best friends, Will (Ethan Crystal) and Tunny (Kimo Camat).  It’s not long before they discover that Greyhound can take them to Somewheresville, namely, the Big City.  But Will has done “the spider with two backs” one too many times and gets a girl, Heather (Kelsey Bentz), pregnant, so it’s a domesticated homebody he must become.  Then it’s up to Johnny and Tunny to ride the grey dog and “search for Intelligent Life in the Universe”…or, at least, to find out their place in it.

But Tunny discovers a cheaper way to see the world, the military, and so he goes off to war.  Instead, in a roundabout way, he finds love with an Extraordinary Girl (Jimmie Herrod).  Meanwhile, back at in the concrete jungle, Johnny discovers the Nowhere Man, St. Jimmy (Dale Johannes), who has all sorts of trips Johnny can go on without even leaving his bed.  And to make it even more attractive, he is partnered with Alysha (Carrie Morgan), who joins him on his mini-trips to the Land of Nod.  And, poor Will, finds that drink numbs the pain of domesticated life and it soon becomes history.

To say the least, this is just not the Life they bargained for.  And there are many people along the way that seem to be in the same boat (Lauren Steele, Michel Castillo and Peter Liptak).  To find out the results of their Journey, you’ll just have to see it.  The songs (not listed) and dancing do carry, along with the actors and musicians, the bulk of the weight of the story.  It almost like an opera, as most of it is sung with little dialogue.

And powerful it is, too, as my frequent companion to musicals, Deanna (soon to be debuting her own musical company www.portlandmusicaltheater.org on the East Side) said it took her back to her growing up years and had quite an impact on her then, as this production did for both of us, now.  This story does have a timeless quality about it, as it can relate to any time period that mixes the vicious cocktail of war, drugs, love and the price of human life, together.

This production is loud, unrelenting, and in-your-face.  It gives you no place to run and hide.  It will not be quieted and, if successful, it will follow you home and invade your dreams, because it is not a story of out there, where others live.  It is a story inside you, where you reside.

Horn, Quesenberry and Martins have thrust a cast front and center with the mandate that “attention must be paid.”  They are all exceptional, so are the Lighting (Jeff Woods) and videos (Ian Anderson-Priddy.  Cole, Crystal and Camat, as the masters of ceremony for these proceedings, are all at the top of their game.  They, and the rest of the cast, have powerful voices that can barely be contained within these fragile walls.  And Johannes, as the devil incarnate, is about as creepy as it gets, as he simply oozes Evil from every pore, as he grins and seems to be saying, suggestively, “thank you for flying with us.”

I highly recommend this show but, be very aware of the subject matter and the intensity in which it’s presented, and make your choice accordingly.  If you do choose, to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.