American Idiot

Published July 23, 2015

What’s it all about?

Sex, drugs and punk rock of the Green Day kind.

Post 9/11 a trio of young friends are thrown down three very different paths in life. Will seeks solace at the bottom of a bottle (and multiple cans) in an attempt to cope with the prospect of fatherhood, Tunny enlists in the military and Johnny hits the hard stuff, shooting up at any given opportunity.

In a musical that’s almost entirely sung-through, Billie Joe Armstrong’s lyrics resonate powerfully as the group of childhood pals contemplate their existence in a country shattered by terrorism.

Who’s in it?

In a drastic departure from his 2012 role as the geeky Michael Dork in Loserville, Aaron Sidwell is compelling as the troubled Johnny, off his face, convincingly so, for almost the entire duration of the production. Fighting addiction and suicidal tendencies – embodied by his alter ego, Lucas Rush’s St Jimmy – his storyline gives the musical an intensity that’s both brilliantly gripping and incredibly difficult to watch.

Alexis Gerred lends raw and passionate vocals to the injury-stricken Tunny, never more so than in his heartfelt renditions of Waiting (despite being in his underpants and losing his mic in the process) and Before The Lobotomy, when the lyrics ‘Dreaming, I was only dreaming’ take on the heart-breaking reality of his situation.

Completing the trio, Steve Rushton’s Playstation-playing, booze-necking Will flits between guilt, despair and indifference as he tries (and often fails) to face the responsibilities that come with being a father.

While this is a musical dominated by incredible male roles, former X Factor finalist Amelia Lily and Natasha Barnes lend excellent support as the girlfriends on the receiving end of the boys’ erratic behaviour.

What should I look out for?

The sugar-sweet harmonies that take you aback in the midst of the almost non-stop rock.

Guitars with headlights… and other clever quirks that allow the Tony Award-winning hit, first staged in London on a much grander scale at the Eventim Apollo, to work in the more intimate surroundings of the Arts Theatre.

Who was in the press night crowd?

With Great Newport Street closed to make way for the red carpet arrivals, we spotted a few stars from both theatrical and music worlds – including Matt and Emma Willis, Richard Fleeshman, Diana Vickers and Gareth Gates – as we made our way past the crowds and into the auditorium to take our seats.

In a nutshell?

Chaotic, intense and pulsating with legendary Green Day hits, a trip to this Tony Award-winning musical may just give you the time of your life.

What’s being said on Twitter?

Will I like it?

American Idiot is by no means a relaxing affair. As hit after Green Day hit pounds your eardrums and your eyes are met with distressing images of drug addiction, self-harm and warfare, this is an intense 90-minute experience. But as the storyline and music come together in perfect punk rock harmony, it is also a must for Green Day fans and musical lovers willing to embrace a gritty, not entirely cheery addition to Theatreland this summer.


When September ends is too late… American Idiot is playing at the Arts Theatre until 27 September. You can book tickets through us or, for performances in August, you can take older children for free with every full priced ticket purchased through our annual promotion Kids Week.

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