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AMERICAN IDIOT American Repertory Theater of WNY/330 Amherst St.
By
Sep 21, 2016, 12:47
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Through October 1
AMERICAN IDIOT American Repertory Theatre of WNY/330 Amherst St.

For a certain generation, Green Day’s “American Idiot” will remind you of “Hair” and its young people and a war, clearly an earlier war than “Idiot.”
For those who don’t know, that’s about young people in Manhattan dealing with youth and war and one of their number who goes off to war.
Here, it’s a new generation and much, much louder music in the relatively small room ART uses on Amherst Street.
Much of “Hair” revolves around a young man who is drafted into the Vietnam military, a time when people of all groups and classes could be drafted, although many beat the draft with college and families or heel spurs.
One of the characteristics of the current volunteer Army is that it’s filled with young people from small towns who see a uniform as the only way out.
That’s the choice of Tunny (Jordan Levin), one of the three musketeers from “Jingletown USA” who want out, along with Johnny (Christopher Teal) and Will (Jesse Ryan Teibor).
That’s the story, three guys who want something better and wind up back home.
The show band pounds out the music of Green Day leader Billie Joe Armstrong and director Michael Mayer.
It’s loud and the kind of heavy metal the “Hair” generation never would understand.
Tunny winds up a disabled veteran.
Johnny winds up a junkie in Lower Manhattan.
Will is a father who lost custody of his child.
All are back in Jingletown, dealing with the future and the past.
Small town to small town in just a few years, by way of personal adventures and tragedies.
Will is never able to quite pull away.
Tunny goes to war and doesn’t completely return.
The center of the tale is Johnny’s adventures on the demi-monde in Manhattan, with his friends hooking him with heroin, especially Ringleader (Ben Caldwell), who is always there with a little baggie when Johnny has cash.
There’s also a character created as Johnny’s alter ego, St. Jimmy (band vocalist Billy Horn), who butts in to scream and shout from his powdery cloud.
There’s also Whatshername (Sara Kow-Falcone), apparently a former junkie who stands by as Ringleader hooks Johnny while still demanding his sexual services.
There are plenty of other girls and plenty of thinly-dressed action to keep things going.
All along, there is the loud, throbbing music, Johnny, Will and Tunny with “I Don’t Care,” Whatshername, Johnny and St. Jimmy with “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” Johnny and Whatshername with “Last Night on Earth” and Johnny with “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
Basically, this is hedonism redeemed or with redemption.
“American Idiot” is a new version of an old story, Biblically old.
Don’t expect to hear much of what the performers are singing, since it’s loud enough to fill a much larger arena.
“American Idiot” is “Hair” for the 21st Century and that’s what makes it so interesting and entertaining for the generation losing its hearing to mobile devices.

A.W.

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