I would like to start this blog with a letter to the people sitting next to me…<clears throat>
Dear People Sitting in Row V seats 103-106 on Thursday evening (2/20):
First, I’d like to thank you for arriving 20 minutes into the play. I am sure whatever you were doing was more important than being on time. If we’d known you were going to be tardy to the party we would have asked the cast, orchestra/band, production crew, ushers and theatre staff to hold the play. Second, thank you for drawing a ton of attention to yourselves from me, the people behind you, and in front of you because I know whatever you were talking about as you sat down was super poignant and needed to be stated right then. Third and lastly, thank you for letting everyone around you know how insanely bored, uninterested, or whatever displeasure you were feeling, it was really no bother to lend one ear while the other was concentrated on the performance we paid to see. I am writing because I wanted to make sure you were OK. You just seemed like you had a rough evening….I hope you had a better Friday and that your weekend is a respite from the cruel world of elegant DC dinners and theatre subscriptions.
On second thought, you probably should have been paying attention. The behavior you exhibited – sighing, chatting, resting your head on the seat in front of you, groaning – you were literally exhibiting the characteristics of an American idiot. I’m sure some where at home you have your own disaffected youth. I have no doubt they’ve received many lessons on entitlement and petulance right there at home. When you first entered the theater, my guess was that you had enjoyed dinner so much that you were late and slightly tipsy which I can forgive. However, your behavior became rude and inconsiderate. If you were disappointed in the performance in any way, that’s unfortunate. I was recently at a performance of a band that I found to be terrible but I sat there quietly (I probably didn’t look overjoyed) but I focused on the happy people around me dancing to the unbelievably bad music and watched the sign language interpreter who kicked complete ass. I mention that to relate to you that there are better ways of channeling your frustration.
You didn’t ruin my theater experience…by the time you arrived I was enthralled and emotionally invested…the music grabbed my heart and didn’t let it go. What you didn’t know was that for 1 1/2 hours my brother was alive in that room and I was flooded with love and more emotion that I can adequately describe. My wish for you is that you open your heart to different types of experiences….don’t let yourself be limited because you will miss something beautiful if you’re not careful.
Row V Seat 107
Now that the unpleasantness is over – Seeing American Idiot on Thursday night was a last-minute decision. The play was on my radar while on Broadway and then when I heard the tour was coming to National Theatre….I must have mentioned my desire to see it 100 times. However, my elopement, a destination wedding, a reception and a honeymoon makes a girl feel guilty about spending a couple hundred bucks on theatre tickets. Enter Goldstar – luckily I do read most of my emails for deals around town because they had Orchestra seats for $55 bucks! I’m glad I clicked that button because Thursday night was one of the most moving performances I have ever seen.
Green Day and I go back 20 years. Dookie came out while I was in high school…when I was at my grungiest…Ok I wasn’t grunge – I maybe wore some plaid while trying to channel my inner Angela Chase. So as a Green Day fan and musical theatre fan – Worlds collided and it wasn’t a disappointment! Unless you’ve been in a music black hole for the past ten years you’ve heard Wake Me When September Ends, American Idiot, 21 Guns and Boulevard of Broken Dreams…they’re on mainstream radio…digestible for the rock god in all of us. There is no time for recovery once the music begins – you’re pulled in and with little dialogue the lyrical journey doesn’t let up.
The entire cast was strong from vocals to choreography but there were a few stand out performances. Mariah MacFarlane as Heather stole the show vocally for me. She was clear and crisp – and the subtle humor of her storyline was delivered flawlessly. Another outstanding vocal performance came from Casey O’Farrell as Will. When he opened his mouth each time my head immediately whipped away from whatever else was happening on stage to look at him. AND Andrew Humann (hopefully it’s the right guy) embodied Billie Joe Armstrong – I’m not sure if was intentional or not but that dude has studied the body movement and facial expressions of Billie Joe and it was amazing to watch…Slightly distracting but in a good way. It really is unfair just to call out these three because it is truly an outstanding cast…and I must give a nod to Dan Tracy – he was excellent as Tunny and liked my picture on Instagram. There truly isn’t a weak element to the show from the music to the choreography to the band to staging – it’s really incredible to watch.
I have a history of being overwhelmed emotionally at theatre performances – Wicked brought tears to my eyes and I think I got misty during If/Then and I definitely cried during an entire Idina Menzel performance – In fairness to myself on that one, I had just been delivered some bad news. I don’t cry often – I leave in theatre seat – It’s just musical theatre that does it to me, I swear! There is no other way to put it – I cried. I cried like a little girl. I don’t think that is the general reaction most people will have but – Green Day reminds me of my brother. He passed away in 2005 – I wanted to play Good Riddance at his funeral but instead I sang Amazing Grace…He was a disaffected youth…his alter ego St. Jimmy won. So what I saw on stage was in part real life…life I’ve witnessed and life I’ve lost. For my brother’s would be 30th birthday I had music notes from Good Riddance tattooed on to my foot. The song reminds me of both him and a video montage in college using that song with a picture perfect for an album cover of myself and some friends walking across bright green grass. So it should come to no surprise to you when I say that I think every musical should end with the entire cast playing acoustic guitar and singing Good Riddance! That was an amazing surprise and well executed!
While I do think this is a show for adults of all ages to me it probably holds more meaning and connectivity to the late 20s to early 40s crowd…I’m giving people in their late 20s the benefit of the doubt…because I really wanted to say early 30s. Musical purist and theatre snobs – please open your ears, hearts and minds and give this piece a chance to move you – don’t just occupy your subscription seat with apathy.