By Camille Anne M. Arcilla

Theater Review
Green Day’s American Idiot
Presented by 9Works Theatrical
July 1 to 3, 8 to 10, 8 p.m.
Globe Iconic Store, Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

IT’S FOR Green Day groupies, for sure — it was like listening to the punk rock band’s playlist non-stop, but sung live — but for those who are not fans, or do not even have a clue who Green Day is, American Idiot is the musical that would turn them into believers.

American Idiot is not just for rock fans

For millennials who grew up with the sound of Green Day in the 2000s, the rock opera brings back the days when compact disc players’s repeat buttons were worn down for “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” — full of the “emo” sound and teen angst.

Green Day’s American Idiot (the musical, not to be confused with their hit song of the same title) builts up one whole story that is immortalized in the songs’ lyrics and gives faces to characters in the band’s songs like “St. Jimmy,” the “Jesus of Suburbia,” and “whatshername.”

The story revolves around a rockstar-wannabe named Johnny (played by Jason Fernandez, former vocalist of Rivermaya) who one day decides to head to The City with his friends Will (Miggy Chavez of Chicosci) and Tunny (theater veteran Nel Gomez). Things get twisted along the way — Will’s girlfriend, Heather (Alex Godinez), gets pregnant, forcing him to stay home; Tunny answers the call to join the military; and Johnny is faced by his powerful alter ego, St. Jimmy (Basti Artadi of Wolfgang), who constantly tempts him with drugs.

The three young men faces the harsh realities of the world — aside from drug disillusionment and teen pregnancy, there is the media, and discovering one’s self amid peer pressure, and realizing the mistakes they make are part of growing up and life’s way of things.

Presented by Globe Telecom and 9Works Theatrical, the Manila staging of American Idiot opened on June 24 at the newly opened Globe Iconic Store in BGC, Taguig City.

Even if it was their first foray into theater, real-life rockstars Mssrs. Fernandez and Chavez, and Rivermaya bassist and co-lead vocalist Norby David who played Theo, were effective in portraying their roles. Mr. Fernandez even sounded like Green Day’s vocalist, Billie Joe Armstrong.

And because American Idiot is around 95% singing with minimal speaking lines, one would think singing punk rock songs all throughout the show would be exhausting. The cast, however, successfully sustained consistency with their vocals, even if a lot of dancing and some parkour movements were involved.

The rest of the cast includes Yanah Laurel, Ela Lisondra, Kai Atienza, Ariel Reonal, Gian Gloria, Mako Alonso, Sarah Facuri, Chesko Rodriguez, Shalee Vicencio, Mark Tayag, and Kendrick Ibasco.

“Theater has a different discipline and practice. Hindi kami sumasayaw sa banda. Dito, oo,” Rivermaya’s Mr. Fernandez said. (“We don’t dance in the band. Here we do.”)

American Idiot director Robbie Guevara said they took a lot just to score the Tony- and Grammy-award winning rock musical, which was adapted from the book written by Mr. Armstrong and director Michael Mayer. When 9Works finally acquired the rights, he said they waited for the right time to stage it in the Philippines.

Globe Telecom partnered with the theater company for the opening of its new Globe Iconic Store located at the BGC Amphitheater. 9Works Theatrical executive producer Santi Santamaria said they got a call from Globe asking them what they could possibly do to showcase the new venue they had been creating.

“I told them about American Idiot and here we are now,” he said. “It’s something new to us; we’ve never done this before. It’s going to be an outdoor show that is not [in] a proper theater.”

During the opening night’s pre-show, Globe executive producer Joe Caliro launched “Globe Live,” the company’s new arm focusing on making entertainment and the arts available to all. Mr. Caliro also introduced the high-definition LED screens at the Globe Iconic Store, a first in the Philippines, which he described as “Good Morning America meets [New York] Times Square.”

To show off what the LED screens could do, a five-minute light show preceded the main event.

When the show ended, the cast joined a Q&A session for the attending media and all of them were wearing shirts bearing the face of Wolfgang’s Mr. Artadi in a show of support for the rock icon.

Mr. Artadi, who was seen to have noticeable changes on his face when he’s performing, recently posted an explanation for his appearance in his Facebook page: “In 2009, I was diagnosed with a tumor in my head, this tumor is on the nerves that control the right side of my face, which is causing the paralysis.”

To be able to raise funds for an operation called a “facial sling,” that could temporarily help his situation, Mr. Artadi is selling shirts with his face which he thinks is a good symbol of getting back the symmetry he has lost.

“I thank God every day because I’m lucky that this thing still left me with the ability to sing, what would have really sucked is if it took 100% of motion from the get go. So we move on and we do the best we can with what we have,” he wrote.

Those interested in helping Mr. Artadi can call 0915-621-2189 or visit Shirt deliveries are available nationwide and abroad.

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