World events and politics often lead to life-changing personal decisions.
Sometimes, rock bands write songs about it.
And sometimes, someone writes a play based on that music.
“American Idiot,” a Tony Award-winning play based on Green Day’s album of the same name, will be performed in July at Trustus Theatre.
Trustus artistic director Chad Henderson, who is directing the play, said the Columbia theater pounced on the opportunity to produce this show.
“The music and story are contemporary and unexpected, just the kind of fare that we like to present here at Trustus,” Henderson said. “I personally have been a fan of the show since it played on Broadway and was hoping for the opportunity to tell this story in Columbia.”
A large part of the play’s appeal is Green Day’s music. “American Idiot” won a Grammy Award for best rock album in 2005. Henderson was a fan.
“They were attempting to make sense of a confusing time,” he said. “I related to a lot of the messages in the album, and thought they translated well on stage when the musical was conceived.”
Henderson predicts the play will appeal to all ages.
“The music has its rough edges at moments but often unfolds into gorgeous takes on some of Green Day’s melodic tunes,” he said.
The political nature of the play may intrigue some.
“It’s an election year, so we thought this piece would be a great fit because it asks us to consider our lives after 9/11 and to explore the human experience set against a political backdrop,” Henderson said. “Our democratic decisions have weight, and our personal decisions drive our experiences. This show asks us to consider both.”
Henderson is thrilled to be directing the play in Columbia.
“The music has lived with me for over a decade, and the show has lived with me since I experienced it during previews on Broadway,” he said. “I feel like I see a lot of myself in these characters and have been friends with many people who also remind me of them.
“Directing this play is not unlike reliving moments from my past, which has brought instances of catharsis throughout the process. I believe the cast is experiencing this same phenomena, which brings truth and familiarity to their performances.”
5 things to know about “American Idiot”
1) It focuses on three dissatisfied young men: Johnny leaves surbubia and gets involved with drugs; Tunny joins the military; Will stays home with his pregnant girlfriend.
2) Billie Joe Armstrong, guitarist with Green Day, was cast as St. Jimmy in the Broadway version of the play.
3) Hit singles from the album are performed in the play: “American Idiot,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Holiday,” “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
4) The technical production is very ambitious, Trustus’ Chad Henderson said. “With over 20 screens, a projector, four video feeds, LED light strips and a confetti feature, audiences can expect a new experience on the Trustus stage.”
5) After a year on Broadway, the show has been performed all over the world.
If you go
WHERE: Trustus Theatre, 520 Lady St.
WHEN: Friday, July 1-Saturday, July 30. Opening night’s show time is 8 p.m.
COST: $35 adults; $33 seniors and military; $25 students
WORTH NOTING: “American Idiot” contains adult language and situations. The show will run about one hour and 45 minutes with no intermission.
INFO: For show times, to buy tickets and other details, go to trustus.org/event/green-days-american-idiot.