The Broadway version of Green Day's "American Idiot" doesn't officially open until April 20, but Friday night (April 16), MTV gave fans an exclusive look into the making of the punk-rock opera when it aired "Green Day Rocks Broadway: American Idiot."
The show detailed the long journey from the recording of the Idiot album in 2003 to rehearsals at New York's St. James Theatre and, at every step of the way, the pressure to deliver the goods was off the charts.
"Right around 2003, I think, as a band, we wanted to have a monumental moment. We wanted to make a concept album, we knew that," Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong explained. "Politically, when we were writing it, American Idiot was trying to make sense out of a big mess. We were trying to find something to believe in. It's about people becoming lost and trying to find their way. And I think that's been going through our songs since 1988."
Armstrong said that, to a man, Green Day always believed that Idiot should end up on the stage, but they didn't think they'd ever find the right team to help that transition. Until they met "Spring Awakening" director Michael Mayer, who took on the project and guided it through an initial run at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in California last year.
"This album is our baby. To see it get put in the hands of other people, it's great. We've always thought that somehow there should be some sort of stage version, because that's what was going on in our heads," Armstrong said. "[And] Michael really stuck to the heart of the album, which are the characters, like Jesus of Suburbia. But he also created new characters by using different, little subliminal things that we put in special packaging. Like the character Tunny, it's a brand-new character. Will, it's a brand-new character, too."
Through rehearsal footage and interviews, we met the Broadway cast, which features "Spring Awakening" star John Gallagher Jr. as Johnny (the so-called "Jesus of Suburbia"), Michael Esper as Will, Stark Sands as Tunny, Tony Vincent as St. Jimmy and Rebecca Naomi as Whatsername. It's a big, diverse collection of talent, but they all had one thing in common: a mutual love for the American Idiot album.
"I can remember just driving around in my mother's minivan, and just cranking that record as loud as it would go," Gallagher said. "And really, just feeling understood, and there was this direct line of communication that I felt coming from that record."
"The album is really like a rallying cry for our generation," Mary Faber, who plays Heather, added.
And though some of the characters were created by Mayer, Armstrong said what resonates most to him about the musical — and, what he thinks fans will relate to — is that they're close to his own heart ... and probably yours, too. And, at the end of the day, that's what the stage version of "American Idiot" is really all about.
"Those people remind me of my friends, and they remind me of myself," Armstrong said.
"I guarantee that what's presented onstage someone will absolutely be able to latch onto," Vincent added.
Will you head to New York to see "American Idiot" on Broadway? Let us know in the comments below!