When it comes to rock opera, it's not going to be your average night at the theater. And Green Day's "American Idiot," opening this weekend at The Empty Space, is no exception.
Perrin Swanson, who directed the show with Mystie Peters, calls it an experience.
"The actors are in your face and they are raw," he wrote in an email. "They are raw bundles of emotions and nerves. And with the live band and the lights there’s this energy that you don’t find in every musical. It’s high octane and in your face."
Peters said the show, based on the punk band's 2004 concept album of the same name, captures the spirit of angry youth in America and the ways that they will lose themselves in something else — another person, an ideal, cheap entertainment — to avoid making the changes necessary for growth.
"It is a show that can reflect some of our emotions back to us and provide that opportunity for self-examination and growth," she wrote. "We hope that everyone who sees the show is both entertained and reflective."
In the musical, three suburban youths — Johnny (Gari Galanski), Will (Nolan Blake Long) and Tunny (Jake Wattenbarger) — want to escape their humdrum existence. Will stays behind when he learns his girlfriend, Heather (Kelsea Johnson), is pregnant but the other two take their tickets to the big city. All three struggle to find their place as external forces and influences wreak havoc in their lives.
"Idiot" also features Kelsey Morrow, Nancee Steiger and Eden Helston.
Peters and Swanson collaborated on directing duties, sharing a unified vision for the production.
"It’s great to have another set of eyes that’s on the same wavelength as you," Swanson said. "We had an insane amount of meetings just the two of us were we would talk about every little detail and aspect of the show. That way we were on the same page and we weren’t contradicting each other and giving conflicting direction."
Both are eager to see how audiences experience the political show and take away the message that the power to change is in our hands.
In addition to adult themes, the show comes with a trigger warning for heavy drug use portrayed on stage.
Those attending the show can opt for a VIP table ($60), with front row seating for two, snacks and beer bucket with your drinks of choice. Those who just want to drink can head to the Space Bar starting an hour before showtime for snacks and beverages including themed cocktails ($6 each): Letterbomb, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and pressed apple cider, served hot or on the rocks, garnished with a cinnamon sugar doughnut; St. Jimmy, vodka, spicy bloody mary mix, lime juice, veggie skewer and chili-salt rim, served on the rocks; and Whatsername, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, orange and pineapple juices, mango nectar, grenadine, club soda and fresh fruit.