American Idiot: Green Day Musical

by Rodney Lotter

Nineteen years ago there was a punk band from Berkeley, California. They just released their major label debut Dookie and then became one of the most famous bands in the entire world. Say what you will about Green Day, but it is hard to put down a band that has been consistent and overcame the one-hit wonder predictions that came with the release of their first album.
It is pretty likely that no one predicted that Green Day would be this famous, and probably no one would have predicted that the band would work on an adaptation of one of their albums for a stage musical. On top of that, there is no way someone would have predicted that it would become one of the most popular and successful musicals in recent memory.
The musical is titled “American Idiot” and is based on Green Day’s 2004 concept album of the same name. After a successful, award winning run on Broadway, and showings all across the world- the musical is now making its way to the Mount Baker Theater on Nov. 21.
The story focuses on three childhood friends: Johnny, Will and Tunny. The three friends are all dealing with the many problems of life and looking for an escape from a world still dealing with the effects of 9/11 and the seemingly neverending war in the Middle East. Johnny and Tunny decide to leave their suburban lives behind, while Will stays behind to mend his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend.
Los Angeles-based actor Casey O’ Farrell plays will in the version of the musical that is playing in Bellingham, and has been playing the role for more than a year and a half. In many ways, Will is the focal point of the musical as he is on stage for 89 of the 90 minutes of the show, which gives the audience the most insight into his character arc, O’Farrell said.
“When I first auditioned for American Idiot, I had no idea what it was about,” O’Farrell said, who has previously been in Rent, among other musicals and plays. “But, I was familiar with Green Day. I mean, if you grew up in the ‘90’s, then there is no way Green Day wasn’t part of your life in some way.”
It’s true: there was no escaping Green Day after the release of “Dookie.” They were seemingly ubiquitous and universal- which is mirrored in the story of the musical.
“I think audiences really are attracted to American Idiot, because the story is so universal,” O’ Farrell said. “The story itself is about depression, relationships, you know the standard fare for musicals, so that is nothing new. But, the addition of musical and the whole rock spectacle of the show I think is what brings more people into the theater. There is a connection that people have with pop music that gives the musical more energy.”
O’Farrell said that the fact that there are three characters all going through their own problems in life is another way in which the audience connects with the musical.
“Each character goes through their own unique journey,” he said. “And there is so much going on, that there is no way a person can’t connect emotionally with at least one part of it. Really, I think if a person can’t relate to it in some way- no matter how small- they must be the black sheep of the human race.”