Mayer Will Direct and Co-Write Book for Green Day Musical American Idiot

News   Mayer Will Direct and Co-Write Book for Green Day Musical American Idiot
Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California confirmed on March 30 that a new Michael Mayer-directed stage musical based on rock band Green Day's "American Idiot" album will premiere there this fall.

Michael Mayer
Michael Mayer Photo by Greg Kalafatas

The story had already been leaked to the New York Times, which ran the news in its online version March 29 (and in print March 30). Green Day will collaborate with Mayer, the Tony Award-winning director of Spring Awakening, to reconceive the concept album for the stage.

American Idiot will run Sept. 4- Oct. 11, opening Berkeley Rep’s 2009-10 season in the Roda Theatre. A limited number of seats go on sale March 30 at

Berkeley Rep will produce the show in association with Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman, the lead producers of Spring Awakening, which won the Best Musical Tony Award.

Green Day's 2004 release, "American Idiot," telling of searching souls in a post-9/11 world, sold more than 12 million copies worldwide.

Mayer and Green Day, along with Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett (Black Watch), recently completed a Berkeley Rep-produced workshop of American Idiot in New York. According to Berkeley Rep, the show will include every song from the Grammy Award-winning album (Best Rock Album and Record of the Year), as well as several new songs from Green Day's upcoming release, "21st Century Breakdown." According to Berkeley Rep, "American Idiot follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East, as they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration — an exhilarating journey borne along by Green Day's electrifying songs. As Time described the album, 'You will hear a story about Jesus of Suburbia, his dangerous friend St. Jimmy, and a heroic girl called Whatsername, who are struggling to express their individuality in a mass-media culture.' This high-octane show will blend an onstage band and an ensemble of 19 young performers…"

For American Idiot, the musical, the credits are words by Billie Joe Armstrong, Music by Green Day, book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, directed by Michael Mayer.

Green Day's bow at Berkeley Rep makes sense: the group started in the Bay Area. Green Day is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool.


Green Day's Tre Cool, Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt
photo by Phil Mucci

"We are really excited to be working with Michael Mayer on this project," Green Day's frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said in a statement. "We'd been thinking of bringing American Idiot to the stage, but knew we needed to find the right partners. After meeting with Michael to discuss the possibility, he invited us to see Spring Awakening. We were so impressed with that production, as well as his vision for American Idiot, that we knew we'd found the perfect collaborator. Plus, doing it in our hometown at Berkeley Rep was an obvious bonus. They're an amazing theatre group, very adventurous, and their willingness to take chances is in keeping with the spirit of the album."

Mayer stated, "When I first heard American Idiot, I was struck by its innate theatricality. Here was a new musical drama begging to be staged. Who would have thought that one of the most brutally honest, eloquent, passionate, funny, and poetic theatrical responses to the post 9-11 world would be a Green Day record? The connection I felt to American Idiot surprised me. I knew and liked Green Day, but had no clue that I would ever feel so inside their songs. This work of passion and vision and fierce intelligence seemed to me like the heartbeat of a generation of Americans who were fed up. I hear in these amazing songs the articulation of their frustration, anger, longing for a better world — a journey from apathy to action. Collaborating with Billie Joe and the band is a mind-blowing thrill…."

According to Green Day notes about the album, the disc tells a "tale of the choice between self-destruction and redemption that resonated with listeners of all ages, nationalities, and political persuasions."

Mayer is the Broadway director at home with both plays (Side Man) and musicals (Thoroughly Modern Millie). His original musical projects have reflected his taste for wedding pop music to theatrical storytelling, as was the case with Spring Awakening (by alt rock composer Duncan Sheik and lyricist Steven Sater) and 10 Million Miles, an Off-Broadway musical that drew on the songs of folk-pop writer Patty Griffin. He also has affection for traditional show music; he has long harbored a hope to re-boot Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever for a new generation.

Mayer won the 2007 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for Spring Awakening, which was also named Best Musical and won for Best Score and Best Book, among other Tonys.

Mayer received Tony nominations for Best Director for his work on A View From the Bridge; You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown; and the Tony-winning Best Musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. His other Broadway credits include An Almost Holy Picture, Uncle Vanya, The Lion in Winter, Side Man and Triumph of Love. Off-Broadway, Mayer has directed The Credeaux Canvas, Stupid Kids, Baby Anger, Antigone in New York and View of the Dome. His imminent project is Theresa Rebeck's Our House at Playwrights Horizons.

Berkeley Rep is known as a home for eclectic contemporary works, including plays such as Yellowjackets, Eurydice and In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, solo shows including Wishful Drinking and Bridge and Tunnel, as well as musicals such as Passing Strange. As previously reported, pop writer Matthew Sweet's album, "Girlfriend," is also set to emerge as a Berkeley Rep musical in 2009-10.

For more information on Green Day, visit For more abut the Tony Award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theatre, visit

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