Teen Angst Continues At New Line Theatre With “American Idiot”

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The three friends, played by Frederick Rice, Brendan Ochs and Evan Fornachon try to plan their lives in “American Idiot” at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Musicals about angry and angst-ridden teens have been successful in the past at New Line Theatre- most notably “Hair” and “Rent.” Now the post 9-11 crowd gets to put their voices out there with Green Day’s “American Idiot.” Thanks to the New Line corp of young talent, it works beautifully with singers that are actors leading the way and the pulsing sounds of the Green Day score carrying us along.

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Brendan Ochs and Larrisa White confront the reality of their relationship in New Line’s “American Idiot.” Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Three friends are introduced after the stirring words of W echo throughout the small auditorium in his post 9-11 rhetoric. Although their lives take different directions, they are united in their search for answers to a world no one seems to understand anymore. Evan Fornachon is a stand-out as the tripped out Johnny. With Sarah Porter as his sometimes girlfriend (he even refers to her as Whatsername), this duo together and separately carry some of the best music in the powerful score. The plaintiff “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” stops the audience cold with pithy lyrics and a captivating melody. From tender moments to raucous sex, this couple is a brilliant statement on the sentiment of the time.

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Part of the company of “American Idiot” at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

The other guys in the group include Brendan Ochs as Will and Frederick Rice as Tunny. Will plays house with Heather and is soon saddled with a baby. They both shine, particularly in the “Too Much Too Soon” sequence. Heather, a powerful portrayal by Larrisa White, stops the show with Clayton Humburg in their “Rock And Roll Girlfriend” number. Tunny joins the Army and is wounded and hallucinates during a PTSD/drug induced number, “Extraordinary Girl” with Sicily Mathenia as a Liberty-wannabe.

Another stand-out is Chris Kernan as St. Jimmy- a pusher, philosopher, panderer who explodes in several numbers including his swan song. As in any show exploring such intense subjects, the ensemble is an important part- taking on supporting roles and driving the music and dance with a frenzy that keeps the audience moving to the beat. The New Line ensemble includes Kevin Corpuz, Cameisha Cotton, Jeremy Hyatt, Omega Jones, Sean Michael, Ariel Saul, Tanya Sapp and Gabe Taylor.

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Sarah Porter and Evan Fornachon with ensemble in New Line’s “American Idiot.” Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Nothing would work in this production withoutthe wonderful New Line Band led by Sue Goldford- also on keyboards. Clancy Newell gets to shine as percussionist and the twin guitarists (with many more guitars they switch out during the show) are D. Mike Bauer and Aaron Doerr. Andrew Gurney is on bass and then the unusual use of strings include Twinda Murry on violin and Jessica Nations on cello.

Directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy bring their usual spirit and flair to the proceedings and keep the show moving at a frenetic pace on a stage that’s long but not very deep. Sarah Porter doubles up on costume design and the Rob Lippert set works beautifully in the small surroundings. Kenneth Zinkl’s lights also enhance the production. The driving force behind it all is the great score of Green Day. From the chilling “21 Guns” to the unusual closing number- “Time Of Your Life”- it flows and gets the point across.

Check out newlinetheatre.com to get ticket info or more information on this outstanding show. “American Idiot” plays at the Marcelle Theater through March 26th.

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