Regional Reviews: Las Vegas
Also see Mary's review of Noises Off
American Idiot began as a concept album by punk rock band Green Day, and was then adapted into a musical, which reached Broadway in 2010, about the misadventures of three disaffected small-town adolescents who leave home to embark on a journey of self-discovery during the Iraq War. Naturally, life throws them some curveballs in their quest for fulfillment. While a punk rock opera won't suit everyone's tastes, if American Idiot is your cup of teaor, more aptly, your drug of choicethen this thrilling production by Majestic Repertory is not to be missed.
The capable Mike Vargovich plays Johnny, whose search for answers leads him to the big city and the charismatic drug dealer St. Jimmy, played with style by Steffan Scrogan, sporting wild makeup and a colorful mohawk. Finding nothing to excite him in the city, the directionless Tunny (Blaise Esperancilla) enlists in the Army and is shipped off to Iraq. The third young man, Will (RJ Viray), doesn't get far geographically, as his girlfriend Heather's unexpected pregnancy keeps him closer to home. His journey is of a different kind.
The musical is mostly sung-through, with a few bits of dialogue. Punk rock being what it is, the loudness of the onstage band (especially in this small performance space) makes it difficult to follow the lyrics, although the repeated choruses register more clearly. If you are already familiar with the songs, you will have no problem. Neophytes will understand what is happening on stage, but may be in the dark about the characters' feelings and motivations. Although the female characters are distinctly secondary, the lead actresses (Arianna Mercy as Whatsername, McKenna Roundy as Heather, and Jenelle Catherina as Extraordinary Girl) have some of the best voices on the stage.
Director Troy Heard uses the full breadth and height of the playing space, staging some of the action on an upstage scaffold above the band. The show is paced to perfection, with seamless transitions between the scenes. The leads are backed by a strong singing/dancing ensemble who execute Jenna Szoke's lively choreography with energy and passion.
The set design, credited to You Killed Me First, involves minimal furniture but boasts a dazzling array of black-and-white pop culture images plastered over every inch of visible wall space. Overhead, rotating lights by designer Marcus Randolph amplify the kineticism.
If you find yourself missing the punk rock of the early aughts, Majestic has your fix.
American Idiot runs through September 29, 2019, at at the Majestic Repertory Theatre, 1217 S. Main St., Las Vegas NV. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 5 p.m. For tickets ($30 general admission) or further information, go to www.majesticrepertory.com.