American Idiot By Sedos

American Idiot is a musical which stems from the Greenday album of the same name, but it is far from a jukebox musical. The rock opera concept album set out to tell a story. We meet Johnny, Tunny and Will in a post 9/11 USA, all disillusioned with their future. Johnny and Tunny set off for the big city to discover themselves where as Will is left behind with his pregnant girlfriend. Tunny however soon discovers city life isn’t for him and he is shipped off to war. Johnny on the other hand turns to drugs and discovers a friend and part of himself, St Jimmy who leads him down the path of self-destruction.

American Idiot is a show that is first and foremost about the music. Luckily Sedos have a cast that could vocally do it justice. There are many huge rock numbers where you get to appreciate the casts ability to belt these huge numbers. When the full cast were on stage singing these numbers in harmony it really was a wall of sound that hits the audience exactly how these numbers should! The slower, more emotive numbers were actually some of my favourite moments as you got a chance to really appreciate the range of the performers on stage. Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Wake Me Up When September Ends and 21 Guns followed on from some of the rockier numbers creating nice moments of reflection within the show.

Photos by Stephen Russell

There was the odd time where the band overpowered the vocals or the mics cut out and as such I missed some of the lines, which could be a problem as the show is sung thoroughly completely.

Jonny, Tunny and Will were played by Nick Dore, George Langdown and Joshua Yardley respectively. All 3 of them had voices which really suit this kind of music. They also managed to embody the characters very quickly and establish just who they were in the show.

One of my favourite performances of the night was Sorrell Brown as St Jimmy. I have only ever seen this part performed by a male actor/singer before but there is no reason why it can’t be played by a woman and Brown demonstrated this perfectly. Her energy and presence on stage was huge. Due to her commanding performance I easily believed the hold that St Jimmy had over Johnny.

Those playing Heather (Will’s pregnant girlfriend) and Whatsername (The girl Johnny falls in love with) have a harder job to do than their male counterparts. Whilst the show sets up the pathway for the 3 leading men the women struggle to come across as anything other than plot points for their love interests. Whilst both Heather Daniel (Heather) and Tara Blackburn (Whatsername) clearly have incredibly strong rock belt voices it is hard to really get behind them just due to the show itself rather than anything their performances are lacking.

The choreography, by Jen Bullock, for this show, especially the rockier numbers were also a real highlight. The show opened with an absolute bang and the strong vocals during the number, combined with the aggressive dance moves really made it clear that the audience were in for a good nights entertainment. The choreography and it’s execution was at it’s best during the rockier moments and on occasion I would have liked the same energy is the more more traditional lyrical or dance based moments.

The set and staging were kept simple but in keeping with the vibe of the show. Flight cases were turned into everything from Hospital beds to seats on a bus. By using these as set whenever they were moved it didn’t shatter the rock illusion and it just looked like roadies moving kit for a gig, an inspired idea. It was also a testament to the director Matt Bentley that he wasn’t afraid to be graphic in some moments, and the drug talking was a perfect example of this, whilst it was a difficult watch it is exactly what this show needs.

This is not a show for the faint hearted but one that should be seen. If you want a show with poignant commentary on society in an unapologetic bold manner then American Idiot by Sedos will be the show you are looking for. With a cast that have stunning rock vocal abilities and a staging that completes the rock vibe, Sedos have once again delivered.

American Idiot is running until the 14th May. You can find out more and book tickets through their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Toxic Avenger by Festoon Theatre Company, Cats by Centre Stage and The Osmonds at the Churchill Theatre.

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