A far cry from the sexual coming-of-age and teen-angst tale that was Spring Awakening, for which Mayer won the Tony Award for Best Direction, American Idiot is about a young man named Johnny (played by Spring Awakening's Tony-winning John Gallagher, Jr.) who journeys from the soulless suburbs in search of something greater, all in the post-9/11 age of media-saturation, fear and cynicism. Johnny is also known as Jesus of Suburbia, a name familiar to fans of the source album.
[AUDIO-RIGHT]The 90-minute rock musical (officially opening April 20) draws on all the songs from "American Idiot," plus material that did not make the album, plus a handful of numbers from Green Day's latest Grammy-winning album, "21st Century Breakdown" (including the song "21 Guns").
The book of the musical is credited to Green Day frontman and lyricist Billie Joe Armstrong and Mayer himself. Music and lyrics are by Green Day. Armstrong said he was so impressed by how Mayer helped shaped the production of Spring Awakening that he gave the director permission to construct a wider scenario and create additional characters for American Idiot, the musical.
(Green Day comprises vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool. They are expected to be heard on a bonus track of the American Idiot cast album, which has been recorded and will get a spring release to be announced.)
Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman are the lead producers of American Idiot. The cast also includes Tony nominee Stark Sands (Journey's End) as Tunny, Michael Esper (A Man For All Seasons) as Will, Rebecca Naomi Jones (Passing Strange) as Whatshername, Christina Sajous (The Wild Party) as The Extraordinary Girl, Mary Faber (Avenue Q) as Heather and Tony Vincent (Jesus Christ Superstar) as St. Jimmy.
The cast also features Declan Bennett (Rent), Andrew Call (Cry-Baby), Gerard Canonico (Spring Awakening), Miguel Cervantes (Spelling Bee), Joshua Henry (In the Heights), Van Hughes (Hairspray), Brian Charles Johnson (Spring Awakening), Joshua Kobak (Rent), Lorin Latarro (Movin' Out), Omar Lopez-Cepero (North American tour of Evita), Leslie McDonel (Hairspray), Chase Peacock (High School Musical), Theo Stockman (Hair), Ben Thompson (Cyrano with Placido Domingo), Alysha Umphress (bare), Aspen Vincent (Dirty Dancing) and Libby Winters (White Noise).
Here's how the producers describe the experience: "American Idiot follows the exhilarating journey of a new generation of young Americans as they struggle to find meaning in a post 9/11 world, borne along by Green Day's electrifying score. This high-octane show includes every song from the acclaimed album 'American Idiot,' as well as several songs from the band's three-time Grammy- nominated new release, '21st Century Breakdown.'"
Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California staged the world premiere of American Idiot in fall 2009. Much of that cast continues with the Broadway transfer. Sands, who recently played Clyde in the Frank Wildhorn musical Bonnie and Clyde at La Jolla Playhouse, is a notable newcomer to the project.
Green Day won two Grammy Awards for the groundbreaking punk rock-opera album "American Idiot," which has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide.
The show features scenic design by Tony nominee Christine Jones (Spring Awakening), costume design by Baryshnikov fellow Andrea Lauer (The Butcher of Baraboo), lighting design by two-time Tony winner Kevin Adams (Hair), sound design by Obie Award winner Brian Ronan (Cabaret), as well as video design by Darrel Maloney. The music director is Carmel Dean.
The show is produced on Broadway in association with Berkeley Repertory Theatre.