Today, Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced the cast for its world premiere of American Idiot. Based on the Grammy Award-winning album of the same name, the show features the music of Green Day and the lyrics of its frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. American Idiot is being staged by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer, who also collaborated with Armstrong on the story. Tony-winning actor John Gallagher, Jr. plays Johnny, leading an ensemble of 19 young performers that also includes Matt Caplan as Tunny, Michael Esper as Will, and Tony Vincent as St. Jimmy with Mary Faber as Heather, Rebecca Naomi Jones as Whatsername, and Christina Sajous as Extraordinary Girl. Berkeley Rep presents the show in association with Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman, the lead producers of Spring Awakening.
American Idiot runs from September 4 through October 11, opening Berkeley Rep's 2009/10 season in the state-of-the-art Roda Theatre. Tickets are available now as part of a subscription to the season, which includes six other hot new shows. The remaining seats go on sale to the public on August 7 at berkeleyrep.org, starting at only $32 - half that for those under 30 years of age.
"We've been working with the cast on this show for the past several months," Armstrong remarks, "so we've seen first-hand what amazing actors they are. We continue to be impressed with how they are handling and interpreting the material. Their talent has truly brought the album to life in a really incredible way."
"This wildly gifted company is investing every fiber of themselves in this material," Mayer comments. "They're bringing depth and passion to their characters, and singing the shit out of the songs. Watching them inhabit the kinetic dynamism of Steven Hoggett's brilliant choreography takes my breath away. It's a rare honor to be blessed with such devoted and spectacularly imaginative performers."
"From the moment they arrived at Berkeley Rep, it has been exhilarating to watch these actors throw themselves into this project, and to see the energy build as they collaborate with our staff," adds Tony Taccone, the Theatre's artistic director. "We are pumped up about American Idiot and can't wait to share it with our audience."
Green Day won two Grammys - Best Rock Album and Record of the Year - for its multi-platinum American Idiot, which sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. Now the band brings that explosive album to the stage with the director of Spring Awakening, which nabbed eight Tony Awards in 2007. With an onstage band, American Idiot follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East. In an exhilarating journey borne along by Green Day's electrifying songs, they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration. This high-octane show includes every song from the album, as well as several songs from Green Day's new CD, 21st Century Breakdown. The world premiere takes off at Berkeley Rep, the Tony-winning playhouse that launched last year's provocative rock musical Passing Strange.
American Idiot earned effusive praise from the press upon its release. It is "a fearless and politically astute rock album, a richly melodic song suite that gives voice to the disenfranchised suburban underclass of Americans," declares Rolling Stone. "The ambitious American Idiot joins an elite list of albums, such as The Who's Tommy, Pink Floyd's The Wall, and The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, that successfully weave a narrative through music," asserts Amp. "For an album that bemoans the state of the union, it is irresistibly buoyant," adds Time. "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."
The cast showcases seven respected performers. Matt Caplan (Tunny), a guitarist who has released three CDs, appeared on Broadway in Rent and South Pacific, on TV in Fox's New Amsterdam, and on film in Across the Universe and Painting Abby Long. Michael Esper (Will) made his Broadway debut last fall in A Man for All Seasons. His many other credits include the recent premiere of The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures by Tony Kushner. Mary Faber (Heather) performed on Broadway in Avenue Q. She has also been seen off Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and the York Theatre Company, and in improv and sketch comedy shows at Ars Nova, The Second City: NYC, and the Upright Citizens Brigade. John Gallagher, Jr. (Johnny) earned a Tony Award for his portrayal of Moritz in Spring Awakening. His other credits include Rabbit Hole on Broadway; Current Events, Farragut North, Kimberly Akimbo, and Port Authority off Broadway; and films such as Woody Allen's Whatever Works and Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret. Rebecca Naomi Jones (Whatsername) performed in Passing Strange at Berkeley Rep, off Broadway, on Broadway, and on film. Previously, she toured with Caroline, or Change; Little Shop of Horrors; and Rent; her recent credits include This Beautiful City and Wig Out! at Vineyard Theatre. Christina Sajous (Extraordinary Girl) appeared in the national tour of Rent. Her New York credits include King Lear with the Classical Theater of Harlem and Wild Party at Culture Project. In concert, she has been a featured artist with Patti LaBelle, Musiq Soulchild, and Chrisette Michelle. Tony Vincent (St. Jimmy) has performed on Broadway in Jesus Christ Superstar and Rent, and in London and Las Vegas in We Will Rock You. He has performed as the frontman for the rock band Queen on several occasions, including Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee and Party in the Park.