Green Day’s explosive and controversial rock musical, “American Idiot,” is storming onto the stage in Milledgeville next week thanks to a student production at Georgia College.
The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, written by Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong and director Michael Mayer, debuted in 2010 and is based off of the band’s album of the same name. For 90 minutes, with no intermission, this rock opera will present the anti-war, pro-soldier views held by many millennials. Written initially as a reaction to the Iraq War, and still relevant today, this show contains explicit lyrics and is intended for mature audiences.
Featuring three young men — Johnny, Tunny and Will (played locally by Josh Shepherd, J.J. Johnson and Nich Stinson) — bored with their post-9/11 hometown life, the show follows their adventures as they discover who they want to be, experience various hardships and overcome challenges.
The paths these young men take explore a variety of issues facing America’s youth, including teenage pregnancy and parenthood, drug abuse, fighting in a war, struggling to find and feel love, and an overwhelming sense of futility. Still, it delivers a message of perseverance and carving out a place to belong — along with the ideas of chosen family and enduring friendship.
A group of 40 Georgia College students are working on every aspect of this production — including performances, set design, make-up, costumes, lighting, props and sound crew — to bring their message of hope to Middle Georgia.
“We’re fighting for our generation and what we believe in. It makes us feel empowered,” said cast member Madison Smith.
“I’m proud to have worked to create a space for student voices to be heard,” said Amy Pinney, associate professor of theater and dance, who co-directs the musical with Ellen Denham.
Of course, alongside the powerful political message is an explosive live band performing memorable Green Day hits, including “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and the titular “American Idiot.” The score included all of the songs from the “American Idiot” album, including B-sides, and additional songs from Green Day’s “21st Century Breakdown” album.
Student actor Josh Shepherd summed it up by saying, “ ‘American Idiot’ gives you an excuse to rock out and hear some classic songs while seeing one risky and gut-wrenching story.”
Green Day’s “American Idiot”
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 21-25
Where: Russell Auditorium, Georgia College, 231 W. Hancock St., Milledgeville