Review: 'American Idiot' at Clowes Hall

April 3, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

With "American Idiot" in town for only a week, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the show here before a full column in the upcoming IBJ.

For the record, I approached the show's national tour fairly ignorant about Green Day’s music. I did hear some songs I recognized (“Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”) but, honestly, if you had asked me beforehand to name two of the band’s songs, I couldn’t have done it. 

My ignorance, though, only shows that, for those who don’t mind non-traditional core characters, lyrics laden with f-bombs, high-volume musical intensity, and a big pile of youth angst, “American Idiot” isn’t just for its characters’ demographic group.

Plot? There isn’t much. Johnny and his disillusioned buddies want out of suburbia. One’s escape plan ends with the pregnancy of his girlfriend. Another tries to find meaning in military service. Johnny hits the big city, finding both love and drugs, with the latter pushing the former away. 

While it has “define a generation” links to “Hair,” the Broadway show that “American Idiot” most recalls is “Movin’ Out.” That, too, focused on a group of friends who take different paths into the world. More to the point, each show creates its own distinct movement vocabulary. Of course, the “Idiot” moves look nothing like “Movin’ Out.” Its choreographic palette consists largely of a kind of controlled thrashing. Company members rush from the wings to hurl themselves into songs. They leap into beds, flip through windows, and spin each other on scaffolding with precision but without seeming over-rehearsed. When they are almost-but-not-too in-sync, the dancers startlingly highlight the show's themes of connectiveness/disconnectiveness. 

I loved the aggression of the show. It has a “this is what we are” confidence that leads to perhaps a few too many middle-finger raises and crotch grabs, but also seems to know that its characters are speaking their own youthful truth—which may or may not be your more experienced truth.

As with a good production of “Hair,” you don’t have to buy into the characters’ world view in order to have a satisfying experience.

Read more in the April 8 IBJ or, after April 6, at www.ibj.com/arts. 

Your thoughts?

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Ok
    My wife and I saw the show last night. It was what I would call different. There was an elderly lady near us who got up and left not more than 2 minutes into the graphic language at the beginning. My review is pretty simple, this was a green day concert with a play and dancing (some really interesting sequences) running in the background. Don't go to the show expecting a traditional musical!
  • why publish april 8
    What's the point of publishing a review in the April 8th/April 6th IBJ? The show's last day is the 7th... Shouldn't IBJ be interested in publishing reviews quickly enough online so that affect whether or not your audience attends the show? At least you have this blog...
  • Terrible - worst broadway show seen
    We never have left a broadway show as season ticket holders and supporters of the arts, but this was a first. I would have left in 10 minutes but wanted to see if a Plot developed but apparently it did not and I am glad we left after 30 minutes. As a gen Xer by birthdate, God help us all if this is our youth today as they definitely need help. There is no need for such language, ruining around in underwear with tattoos everywhere.
    • why?
      d. Thanks for the question. 95% of the time, what I choose to review in the print edition of IBJ is something with an Indy shelf life beyond our Monday pub date. However, I don't see the column as a kind of Consumer Reports for the arts, and when there's a more limited time-frame event that I think is worth discussing, I'll take it to the column. In this case, "American Idiot" falls into a genre--the youth-oriented musical--that tends to bypass Indianapolis. We never did see, for instance, the tours of "Hair" or "Spring Awakening." I offered both a shorter blog post and a longer review (which still got to our subscribers on Saturday with two performances left). For the big picture, though, if I stuck to just events with longer runs that would eliminate every ISO show besides Yuletide Celebration, just about every Indianapolis Opera production, most dance performances and just about all touring shows.Thanks for reading, Lou
    • American Idiot
      I saw it with my teen daughters - not realizing it was R rated. We all enjoyed it but agree that it didn't need so many f-bombs and they should/could have downplayed the sex scene, too. That aside, I was able to tell them 'This is what NOT to do with your life'. Very talented group and the music was very good. Lots of energy. Glad I went. Next up....West Side Story!

    Post a comment to this blog

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT
    1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

    2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

    3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

    4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

    5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?

    ADVERTISEMENT