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Green Day’s American Idiot: The Musical : an inside look

K.T Simpson

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Green Day’s explosive award-winning Broadway phenomenon “American Idiot” has arrived in Australia, set to rock audiences in Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin, having already impressed in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.

The musical debuted back in 2009 in the appropriate town of Berkeley, California, and migrated to the St James’ theatre on Broadway in 2010. After 422 performances on Broadway, the show finished in 2011, but has since been in high demand across the world, so followed up with performances in Europe, South America and now Australia.

If you’re unfamiliar with the musical, or the album on which it’s based on – you’ve come to the right place. Not only have I had the inside look into the amazing broadway hit, but I also am the self-declared #1 Green Day fan and have been waiting 9 years to see this production.

So let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

“American Idiot: The Musical” is based on Green Day’s 2004 album by the same name. It’s not like a traditional album, but more of a rock opera, and tells the story of Johnny and his friends, who all live in Jingletown, USA. His friends – Will, Tunny, Heather and many other youths – all live fairly unhappily and fall into drugs and despair while trying to find themselves.

Johnny meets St Jimmy – who may or may not just be a figment of his imagination, that’s up to you to decide – who seduces him to the dark side of drugs, sex and booze, making him fall off the straight and narrow. He also meets Whatsername and falls in love with her, but she ultimately leaves him as he struggles to stay away from the bad influence of St Jimmy.

Obviously that’s a super simplified version of the story, but the “American Idiot” musical goes through the album and tells this story through the performance. Ultimately it tells of the story of these three best mates as they go on a quest to find true meaning in a world full of violence and dissolution, leading them on a journey of self-discovery, heartache and revelation.

The role of St Jimmy is a shared rotation by Phil Jamieson (of Grinspoon fame), Adalita (from Magic Dirt) and Sarah McLeod (The Superjesus). The Australian tour will see Ben Bennett in the lead role of Johnny, Phoebe Panaretos as Whatsername, Connor Crawford as Tunny, Kayla Attard as the Extraordinary Girl, Alex Jeans as Will, Ashleigh Taylor as Heather, supported by Erin Clare, Christopher Scalzo, Nicholas Kyriacou, Kyla Bartholomeusz, Maxwell Simon, Vidya Makan, Phoenix Mendoza and Kuki Tipoki.

So ahead of “American Idiot’s” debut in Melbourne, I got the opportunity to attend an exclusive preview of the musical, and see two numbers performed (American Idiot and St Jimmy), and interview the three stars on rotation for the role of St Jimmy – Phil Jamieson, Adalita and Sarah McLeod.

The show is going to be a massive hit, let’s say that. It’s going to appeal to Green Day lovers and those unfamiliar with their material, because it’s incredible singing and dancing, amazing visuals and an impressive cast that really share chemistry on stage. It’s about time Australia got their look at this production, as it brings punk-rock back into the musical scene. It’s not for the feint hearted, as it touches on some pretty hardcore issues – not to mention drops a few f-bombs – but it will certainly make us all feel young again.

 

Now let’s speak to the St Jimmys, shall we!

Q: How different are each of your performances, and do you get audience members coming back to see each of your versions of St Jimmy?

Adalita: I think the St Jimmys are quite different to each other and we all have our own take on St Jimmy, and yes there have been punters that have come back and seen different St Jimmys, and loved them all. Sarah of course is having her debut in Melbourne, so I can’t wait to see it.

Sarah: Yeah so we are yet to determine how successful my Jimmy is! [laughs]

Adalita: No, no, no, but I know it’s going to be a unique take, like we all have on St Jimmy.

Sarah: We certainly look different, we all have our own variation on hair and make up, so that’s a good start. Phil hates my make up, he keeps calling me ‘panda bear’.

Q: Given that they are quite different, in one word how would you describe your presentation?

Adalita: I reckon… mine’s just nasty.

Sarah: Mine’s badass.

Phil: I’m fairly charming, but also a bit devilish in some ways.

Sarah: One word dude, one word.

Adalita: It’s hyphenated.

Phil: It’s too early in the morning.

The 3 St Jimmys – (L-R Adalita, Sarah McLeod and Phil Jamieson)

Q: You guys are all rock legends, so you’re not scared of the stage at all. How do you feel like that translates to playing a different character on stage, rather than yourselves?

Phil: It’s terrifying. The short answer is when we play, when we sing our own songs on stage, we’re representing ourselves. This is acting, this is not us. So I found the first time I did it to be very nerve-wracking, and because there’s so many other people that are really dependant on you – there’s 15 other incredible cast members – if we don’t hit a spot at the right time and that messes up their spot in the show. We all want to work as a team, and row as a boat, you know what I mean? That was the real pressure, because they’re all incredible, the people we work with.

Sarah: There’s so much to remember, like what spots you have to hit in certain parts of the song – it’s really particular. It’s like 5cm that way could change everything.

Phil: Yeah, so it’s terrifying but also incredibly rewarding, and it’s a different type of euphoria at the end of this show than a rock n roll show, ’cause there’s this ultimate thing where the audience comes with us on this incredible and quite emotional ride. So when it ends, it’s really quite a euphoric feeling when the crowd are with us – so it’s really lovely.

Adalita: Yeah, just that [laughs]. I was absolutely shitting myself the first time I did it – like terrified.

Phil: Yeah, same.

Adalite: ‘Cause you’re playing a role, you’re not playing yourself, which is what we essentially do when we’re playing our rock shows. So you’re playing a character, and you have to get into that role, and it’s a whole other world – the theatre world.

Sarah: There’s lots of running up and down stairs in high heels. And ladders up the back. In the dark.

Phil: We are running up and down stairs a lot.

Adalita: But it’s great, I think that we’ve thrown ourselves into this completely, like 110%, and that’s what you have to do in theatre.

Phil: Commit.

Adalita: Yes. The sense of accomplishment is far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before, so it’s helped me on so many levels as a performer, so you’re taking away a lot. And I love this cast, I love this production – everything about it, I feel so lucky.

Phil: Yeah it’s a real honour and privilege to be a part of it.

Sarah: Everyone in this cast is really good. Really good singers, really good performers. Really good every night – it’s not like they slack off here and there. There’s a lot of performances.

Phil: We’re doing 9 shows a week. We don’t do that [All laugh]. So 9, that’s a lot, I mean – for me.

Adalita: And the show is so high energy, like it’s physically demanding – like really demanding.

Sarah: I remember seeing one of the first emails it said “if you need panadol, just go and ask blah-blah” and I was like “I wonder what they’re doing in there?”. And then I saw it and thought no wonder they need copious amounts of panadol. Everyone is just at it constantly and head-banging all the time, so it’s really taxing on your body.

Q: Were you all Green Day fans coming into this, and what motivated you to want to be a part of this musical? 

Phil: Oh I just said yes. I didn’t think about anything. I was just like “yes!” and then the consequences came later. I was a massive fan of Green Day – “Dookie”, I think it was ’94, when I graduated high school and it kinda… “Dookie” killed grunge in a way because it was all positive and it was really anthemic, and short songs and it was kind of the end of … and then “American Idiot” rolled around and I was a massive fan of “Boulevard” and those songs that all really struck out to me. Had a listen to the record for a few years when I got this. When I listened to the record religiously, and then got to the production, they’re like “nah it’s the broadway version mate, you’ve totally fucked up!”. So I was like “oh god there’s a broadway version” – so like “Know Your Enemy” is completely different in this production than it is on the record, so there was a bit of re-learning. But yeah I’m a massive fan, and even moreseo now. And also I’ll never hear “Letterbomb” the same, or “Extraordinary Girl” the same, as now it’s part of the characters of the show. It’s really taken a life of its own for me.

Sarah: Yeah I really like the way they’ve adapted it for the broadway side of it. They’s sort of made it this ’50s sort of thing – like it’s kind of The Beach Boys meets punk, with all the background vocals, and the way it’s orchestrated – it’s really clever. All the new arrangements are really clever, it’s right up my alley. I like it!

Adalita: I think for me, if I was going to do a musical ever, which I never thought I’d be doing, it was like yeah, fuck yeah, this is the one that you wanna do. I’ve always loved Green Day, and Billie Joe – you know he’s awesome. I’ve always just loved the cut of his jib. So I’m glad to be doing this one.

“Green Day’s American Idiot: The Musical” plays in:

Melbourne: until March 11, 2018 at the Comedy Theatre.
Brisbane: 13-21 April, 2018 at the Playhouse Theatre, QPAC.
Darwin: 3-6 May, 2018 at the Darwin Entertainment Centre.

Get tickets HERE.

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Caffeinated Clint’s Ten Favourite Films of 2018

And also his least favourite films of the year!

Caffeinated Clint

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I don’t know that it was a great year for movies – in fact, most of the films I’d been anticipating bit me like a leech on the testicle – but that doesn’t mean there still wasn’t some tasty meat in between the pellets. For every “Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom” there was a “Blackkklansman”, and for every [Insert Amy Schumer Movie Title] Here there was “Boy Erased”. Studios stuck to the recent norm of putting style over substance when it came to their tentpoles, leaving so many of the hotly anticipated and unyieldingly-promoted fare from the likes of chafing disappointments, but those major independent labels and artistic auteurs more than made up for any bugs in the system, smearing MacAfee virus removal all over the marquee with their distinct, diverse and surprisingly unique offerings.

The year’s biggest surprise  – if only because it was a project that had been simmering away for the better part of fifteen years, losing director after director, leads after leads – was undoubtedly “A Star is Born”, which not only introduced audiences to ‘up and coming’ actress Lady Gaga, whose name will now be firmly cemented in cinema as much as it’s been in music, but also tyro director Bradley Cooper, who took on a discarded Eastwood project and put his own unique and powerful spin on it. Sure, it’s a story we’d seen time and time again (in fact, this is the fourth version of “A Star is Born”), but it was the chemistry of the leads, those dynamite performances, and the emotion carved into the libretto that kept critics and audiences hooked.

Like Cooper, freshman director Joel Edgerton also hit it out of the park this year with his turn behind the camera – “Boy Erased”. What a film that was. Just sublime. Powerful stuff.

On the no-surprise front, the always-dependable “Mission : Impossible” franchise continued to impress – is it the only series that actually improves as it goes on!? – just as much as its headline act, Tom Cruise, does with the most entertaining, most skilled blockbuster of the year “Fallout”. Featuring a killer turn from Henry Cavill as its hulking villain, eye-popping stunts and action sequences, and endless reminders why Tom Cruise is still the most bankable box-office star of our times, sixth time was the charm for the now 22-year-old movie franchise.

If one genre had the monopoly on the ‘best of’ list this year it was the family category, with everything from Paramount’s “Bumblebee”, Pixar’s “The Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, and Sony Animation’s “Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse” all topping most live-action fare when it comes to sheer storytelling, allure and uniqueness. Seems the computer maketh some awesome filmeth!

Also very solid, the superhero movie fare of 2018 – sure, there were the fun, enjoyable time-passers like “Deadpool 2” and “Aquaman” but at the top end of the scale were some truly magnificent pieces, like the ground-breaking and exceedingly breathtaking “Black Panther” from Marvel.

Bearing in mind I’m still to catch up with quite a few movies that have made most Top Ten lists (including “If Beale Street Could Talk”, “Green Book”, “Suspiria” and “First Reformed”) here are my top ten favourite movies of 2018 :

 

A Star is Born

Mission : Impossible  – Fallout

Boy Erased

Blackkklansman

A Quiet Place

Black Panther

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Avengers : Infinity War

Game Night

The Incredibles 2

 

Runners-Up : Annihilation, Bumblebee, Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse, Ant-Man & The Wasp

 

And, for me, these were the least enjoyable films of the year…

 

Tag

Super Troopers 2

Holmes & Watson

I Feel Pretty

Truth or Dare

Oceans 8

Skyscraper

Gotti

The Predator

Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom

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Apparently Sinbad stars in the new Aladdin?

Don’t worry, he’ll be a Man in Blue come summer 2019

Caffeinated Clint

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The Fresh Prince of Blue Heir.

Disney have unveiled a first look at Will Smith’s Genie from the upcoming live-action (in case you haven’t heard, that’s the latest thing Disney have dampened their undies for lately) ‘Aladdin’, and I gotta tell you, it is absolutely beautiful to see such full those hearts at Christmastime… as evident in social media responses.

For the record, and if it helps with the eye chafing, the character will be ‘blue’ in the finished film. Mike Lowery said it himself. In other words, the movie is going to be the shizzle. All it needs is a blue genie, after all. Right!?

Some other pics from the upcoming flick are below, but first, a new photo from Disney’s upcoming “Lion King” adaptation – here’s Mufasa.

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We’ve got your first look at Deadwood the movie!

First pics feature Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant; executive producer talks storyline

Caffeinated Clint

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Sayin’ questions in that tone and pointin’ your finger at me will get you told to **** yourself.

Christmas comes early for “Deadwood” fans with the first pics from the long-awaited film version – releasing – hitting the online distraction service today.

There’s Ian McShane, hardly aged a day, looking as devilish as ever as saloon owner Al Swearingen, and also our first look at a slightly older but even slightly more distinguished Seth Bullock, now a U.S Marshal, played by Timothy Olyphant.

Also returning from the HBO series : Molly Parker (Alma Ellsworth), Paula Malcomson (Trixie), John Hawkes (Sol Star), Anna Gunn (Martha Bullock), Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter), Brad Dourif (Doc Cochran), Robin Weigert (“Calamity” Jane Canary), William Sanderson (E.B. Farnum), Kim Dickens (Joanie Stubbs) and Gerald McRaney (George Hearst).

They’ve been yakking about a movie version of “Deadwood” for quite some time – in fact, near as soon as the show was cancelled, at the conclusion of its third season. It’s taken a number of years to get together, largely because of cast scheduling, but the photos above prove it’s finally a reality.

”Tim was pretty tough. I will say he really dug in — in a good way, not a stubborn way — with good thoughts on where to take his character and the story and kept pushing on that, and they were helpful thoughts in terms of getting the script where it needed to be”, the film’s EP Carolyn Straus tells EW.

Series creator David Milch scripted the film, which airs sometime next year. It will reportedly be about time taking it’s toll on people.

“If you ask David, it’s about the passage of time”, says Straus. “The toll of time on people. It’s mellowed some people and hardened others. And it’s about the town’s maturing and becoming part of the Union and what that event sets in motion, in a very personal way for the people that it brings in town and what ensues. The toll of time has not just struck Deadwood and the characters but all the people making it as well, you get to see the faces of people 12 years later. And it was really profound. Actors were crying at the table read — not necessarily from the script but the emotion of being back and doing something we all loved doing so much. You normally have a great experience and then it’s over. You don’t normally get the chance to do this in life. It was kind of a gift.”

Swearingen has endured a lot since we last saw him, says Straus.

”The time has taken its greatest toll on Swearengen. He’s the person who really drove so much of the life of the town and there’s a sense of that power waning somewhat, and what ensues of that is a big part of the story.”

There was originally talk of two “Deadwood” movies – which Milch had said would wrap up the storylines left dangling after the series annulment – but at this stage, even if we only get the one, it’s one more than I think most of us assumed we’d ever get.

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