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Milwaukee Rock Theatre Company brings new life and personality to “American Idiot”

Photo+via+Facebook.com%2FMilwaukeeRockTheatre
Photo via Facebook.com/MilwaukeeRockTheatre

Photo via Facebook.com/MilwaukeeRockTheatre

Photo via Facebook.com/MilwaukeeRockTheatre

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The Tenth Street Theater next to Straz Tower is a spot many students miss when they walk through campus, but it was impossible to miss last weekend when Milwaukee Rock Theatre Company brought Green Day’s “American Idiot” to the stage.

The Tony-award-winning musical is based on the band Green Day’s 2004 rock opera album of the same name. The show expands upon the story and themes of the album while adding songs from studio album “21st Century Breakdown,” some B-side tracks, and even a song Billie Joe Armstrong wrote when he was 19. The story follows Johnny, Tunny and Will, three disaffected young men looking to finally do something with their lives.

The Milwaukee Rock Theatre Company made the show feel fresh and original. The actors brought such lively personalities to the three main characters that they all felt like people I knew personally. Matt Ragalie channels the angst of every teenager in America as Johnny. He hates society and conformity but has not quite figured himself out yet. Casey Van Dam’s Tunny is your goofy friend who is constantly playing Weezer or Nerfherder on guitar. He is rash and more willing to conform to the society that Johnny so readily rejects. Dakota Loos-Wallace’s Will is your fun-loving stoner friend who cannot take responsibility for anything. The personality of the characters went a long way in making me invested in their stories.

Photo via Facebook.com/MilwaukeeRockTheatre

The creative team did a great job with the set design and the overall appearance of the show. They used the small space of the Tenth Street Theater very well, giving the production more of a garage band aesthetic rather than a big stadium rock vibe. The costumes were very fitting for what is essentially a period piece of 2003. The best costume by far was Bree Kazinski as St. Jimmy. With her ripped black jeans, tattooed arms and red faux hawk, she looked like the epitome of punk.

With all the songs from the original Grammy-winning album, the music was definitely one of the best parts of the show. The band did a good job despite a recurring issue with the keyboard. The theatrical arrangements of the many of the songs call for a string section to accompany the band. In this production, the string parts were played on an electric keyboard, which often felt a little distorted and out of place in the music. This was distracting during some of the more emotional songs like “21 Guns” and “Homecoming.”

Overall, the show was wildly entertaining. “American Idiot” is one of my all-time favorite albums, and I loved seeing the unique spin that co-directors Don Linke and Deonne Summers put on the show. I look forward to seeing what Milwaukee Rock Theatre Company has in store for the future.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Milwaukee Rock Theatre Company brings new life and personality to “American Idiot””

  1. Deonne Summers on June 21st, 2017 5:53 pm

    WOW! Thank you so much for the review. It was such a pleasure working with this cast (of characters). they are so wonderfully gifted and worked so hard on creating a memorable show. So happy to see a positive write up. Much gratitude and love sent your way!

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