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Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 10:11 a.m.

'American Idiot' opens at Paramount: Splash over substance

  • Scott J. Campbell (Tunny), Van Hughes (Johnny) and Jake Epstein (Will) in AMERICAN IDIOT.

    Photo by Doug Hamilton

    Scott J. Campbell (Tunny), Van Hughes (Johnny) and Jake Epstein (Will) in AMERICAN IDIOT.

"American Idiot," the Green Day musical that wowed Broadway, opened Tuesday night at the Paramount for a week-long run.

This slick show strings together many popular Green Day songs into a "jukebox musical" that attempts to tell the story of three friends. The story attempts to be a reflection of post 9/11 cultural sensibilities. It has bits of "Hair" due to a anti-war plot line and some hint of "Rent" with its rough set design and cultural reference.

I found the story of the three pals trite, leaning heavily on pastiche rather than substance. The songs, although familiar, lacked Green Day's vibrancy and raw energy.

Written by and originally starring Billie Joe Armstrong from the iconic punk band, the show tries to have a punk edge. The blade, however, is dull,softened for a mass-market audience. Armstrong is not part of the touring ensemble.

Due to the raucous and loud band, it often was hard to hear lyrics, except when the music quieted and songs were crisp over an acoustic guitar.

Despite all this, the show is entertaining enough as long as you don't try to interpret deeper meaning. Van Hughes, who plays Johnny, is a charismatic lead, a great dancer and even better singer.

The rest of the cast is strong and the sets have enough whiz-bang to wow the audience.

When the cast sings "Time of Your Life," in the finale, they sing, "It's something unpredictable but in the end
it's right, I hope you've had the time of your life." The audience on Tuesday roared, but I couldn't help but disagree.

I had a fine time, but it wasn't the time of my life.

"American Idiot" plays daily through June 10 with weekend matinees. Tickets start at $25 for rush seats n the pit, cash only at the box office, 911 Pine St., Seattle. More information at
Story tags » Rock MusicTheater

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