Tuesday, January 24, 2012

American Idiot - Tour

As many of you know, I am crazy obsessed with American Idiot (the musical). I saw it 6 times while it was on Broadway. I've written about it several times. The first national tour (I'm hoping it's the first of several...but who am I?) opened in December in Toronto. The first U.S. stop was in Detroit, Michigan this past week. When the tickets went on presale, months ago, my best friend and I knew we had to go.

Sure, the drive was going to be long. Sure, it was going to Detroit in the WINTER was risky. But considering the fact it was going to be nearly a year from the last time I saw the show, I knew that it was a no brainer. On that note, this is a two part post. I'm going to give a little review AND I'm going to write about my fantastic/crazy weekend.

Right before we left for our drive up to Michigan (which should have been about a 10 hour drive), we noticed snow and ice in the forecast. Intent on going, we were just hoping that it wasn't horrible. Turns out, driving through ice and snow is NOT fun. And we ended up stopping in the middle of the night (and the middle of the trip) to get a hotel room. An interstate with no lines because there's so much snow? Not a good thing to be driving in at 2:00 in the morning.

Luckily, our show wasn't until Saturday night and we were able to get an early start on Saturday morning and still made it to Detroit with several hours to spare. By the time that we made it to Detroit Opera House that night, I was about to lose my mind with excitement.

Nicci Claspell (Extraordinary Girl)
We were in the second row, but after we'd purchased tickets, I found out there were Orchestra Pit seats (which ended up being for the student rush people, I think). We were a little farther away than I thought we'd be, but the seats were still super amazing. I think the people around us might have thought we were insane with our glitter posters (more to come on that topic) and our lap full of tissues (for the tears that we knew would come).

And then it started.

The story is simple: young people who feel abandoned and ignored, stuck in suburbia are anxiously trying to get away. Johnny, Tunny, and Will are prepared to break out of their suburban lives to find themselves and to find a life different than what they know. Will, played by Jake Epstein, ends up staying in suburbia after finding out that his girlfriend Heather, played by Leslie McDonel, is pregnant.

Johnny and Tunny, played by Van Hughes and Scott Campbell, take off to the big city only to find out that it isn't exactly what they were looking for. A disillusioned Tunny joins the military, leaving Johnny to fend for himself. Johnny manages to simultaneously find a girlfriend, Whatsername, and a drug pusher, St. Jimmy. Whatsername is played by the lovely Gabrielle McClinton, and St. Jimmy is played by Joshua Kobak. While Johnny and Tunny find themselves outside of their home, Will is left with girlfriend Heather and a new baby while trying to deal with what life handed him. 
Van Hughes (Johnny)

An amazingly talented cast graces the stage for the touring cast. Several members of the cast were in the Broadway production, including Van Hughes. Hughes closed out the Broadway run as Johnny. Leslie McDonel, who plays Heather was an ensemble member on Broadway. Joshua Kobak, Krystina Alabado, Jennifer Bowles, and Omar Lopez-Cepero were all in the Broadway production at some point. Add to that some amazing talent new to the show and you have an all-star cast that puts on a fantastic production that kept me on the edge of my seat.

The touring production had changed somewhat. Obviously, there was a nearly entirely new cast. There had also been set changes. No more car hanging from the ceiling (no surprise there). No more platform rising from the stage (also, not a huge surprise). The background had been changed as well. There were no longer posters lining the walls. The walls were mostly black with some writing showing through in spots. Nothing else had really changed and what had changed wasn't an issue as far as the story was concerned.

Scott J Campbell (Tunny)
There had also been some costume changes for the characters (almost all of the ladies in the cast had at least one different outfit than from the Broadway production). The clothing all still fit with the story and the music and no one, other than a person who'd seen the show several times, would have even noticed it at all. Some minor changes in choreography and more glitter than I remember (St. Jimmy’s entrance is glitter filled and I LOVED it!) were also there.

The overall visuals and lighting of the show are still more than present. The televisions flashing in the background serve an amazing purpose of not only having some great visuals, but they represent the generation’s obsession with the media.

I feel the need to see this touring production more times. Honestly, as many as my budget will allow me. There are so many things going on at the same time during the show that it’s often difficult to see everything you’d like to see. It’s part of the reason I saw the Broadway version as many times as I did.

After the show my friend and I took off to the stage door as planned and met up with three fellow “twidiots” that we’d met online. You know a show has power when it can bring people together and forge friendships when you’ve never even met face to face. Currently, I follow five people on twitter that I have met in person who share my love for this show. Four of those five I met online before I met them in person.

Kelvin's poster

I’ve also written about the amazing actors that like to tweet fans back. Because of his super amazing twitter contact, the five “twidiots” have formed an unofficial fan club for Kelvin Moon Loh, ensemble member extraordinaire. Due to a couple of twitter conversations with Kelvin, my friend and I made a card and a poster for Kelvin. The glitter was everywhere and we had to carry them with us into the show. The poster my friend made had all of our twitter names on them, and I got everybody to sign the card I made while we were waiting for the actors to come out.

Kelvin Moon Loh with his glitter covered card!

I could go on and on about how great the actors were at stage door. They were all extremely nice and took time to talk with us (sometimes I think it must be easier to spend time at stage door on tour than it might be for them if the show is on Broadway). Because there were not throngs of screaming fans, I actually got to meet and get the autograph of Van Hughes (something that I was never able to do when I saw him on Broadway (four times!). Meeting Kelvin was amazing and he’s every bit as nice in person as he is on Twitter. I loved talking with Scott Campbell and I’m horrified that I didn’t get a picture with Jake Epstein.

The best part? I’m not sure, but I’ll venture to say that experiencing American Idiot again was the best part. I think it’s rare that a show can touch a person’s heart the way American Idiot has touched my heart. You can read my reasons why in the many other posts I’ve written.

The "Twidiots"

A close second? Meeting my Twitter friends (both fans and actors) in real life. I love that Twitter can bring people together in such an amazing way. And I love that American Idiot was the connection.

So, was the trip to Detroit in the middle of a snow storm worth it? Absolutely. No hesitation. Now to plan my next time to see Idiot on tour. Anyone need me to do odd jobs for you? I’m available for employment. Apparently I need a second job to support my American Idiot addiction.

1 comment:

  1. I like how, on my knees, I am almost as tall as the rest of y'all.