When Green Day’s American Idiot arrived on Broadway in 2010, it received a mixed response. When I saw the original Broadway production, I thought the cast was glorious and found the Book, like everyone else, safe; an emotional roller coaster. Furthermore, you have the rocking score of Green Day’s Grammy-winning album the musical is based on. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience seeing it on the Great White Way, and I am delighted Oakdale’s Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center (CMPAC) has added it to their current season.
The superb Ashley Nicastro directed production, running through March 14th at the adorable Long Island venue, boasts a beautiful and energetic cast.
Johnny, John Gallagher, Jr.’s role from the Broadway cast, is powerfully portrayed by Andrew Murano. We watch Johnny roam the city and meet a woman we only know as Whatshername, portrayed by Jess Ader-Ferretti, who joins him on his journey. We also meet, with a stellar and fierce performance by Michael Visconti, St. Jimmy, who is Johnny’s enabler. Johnny’s friend, Tunny, Stark Sands’ role from the Broadway cast, is excellently portrayed by Matthew Paredi. Tunny joins the military and meets Extraordinary Girl portrayed by CMPAC super-talent Samantha Rosario. Not happy with living in suburbia in a post 9/11 world, they flee looking for a more meaningful life. Their friend Will, Michael Esper’s role from the Broadway production portrayed by David DiMarzo, decides to stay as his girlfriend, Heather, portrayed by Marly Mensher, has revealed she is pregnant. We find Will become withdrawn descending into a drugs and alcohol induced depression.
Everyone in the cast is top-notch wonderfully executing the music filled with some of Green Day’s biggest hits. Most are, of course, from the 2004 album, but with some additional classics mixed in, too. It is a treat to see the young actors in a musical style they are thoroughly familiar with and can fully deliver on the intent of the music and message.
Also a highlight is the fantastic set done by Patrick Grossman, who also serves as CMPAC’s Artistic Director. A bi-level, stationary design, with additional rolling pieces, make for seamless scene changes highlighted by Alison Weinberger’s atmospheric lighting. It is a visually stunning production. The live orchestra, of whom sits on stage with the cast, is also brilliant headed up by Musical Director Christopher Russo.
And so, Green Day’s American Idiot is indeed another hit for Long Island’s Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center. Forget any negative things you may have heard about this show and enjoy the superb cast and music. The cast even invites you to sing along with them for a rendition of the classic “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” as the Broadway cast did. All in all, this is a thrilling and emotional night of theatre.
Green Day’s American Idiot is presented by the Noel S. Ruiz Theatre of Oakdale, Long Island, through March 14th. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-218-2810 or visit www.cmpac.com.
Music by Green Day, Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong, Book by Billie Joe Armstrong & Michael Mayer, Directed & Choreographed by Ashley Nicastro, Music Direction by Christopher Russo, Stage Management by Karen Tese, Dance Captain is Evan Torres, Set Design by Patrick Grossman, Costume & Wig Design by Ronald Green III, Sound Design by Viper Studios, Lighting Design by Alison Weinberger, Projections by John Mazzarella
Starring Andrew Murano, Matthew Paredi, David DiMarzo, Michael Visconti, Jess Alder-Ferretti, Marly Mensher, and Samantha Rosario with Courtney Braun, Kara Burke, Tommy Castelli, Vinny Donnadio, Dan George, Hans Paul Hendrickson, Cas Holliday, Briggs Houston, Steffy Jolin, Christian W. Kalinowski, Danielle Pafundi, David Reyes, Evan Torres, Jordan Yates, and Adriana M. Scheer
Photo by Justan Garcia