St. Billie

Reason #1,245 why I love living in New York City: Last night I was in the audience as Billie Joe Armstrong played St. Jimmy in American Idiot, the show he created. A role that he wrote. Music he wrote. He's on for one week only, and I was there. I was there.

It probably isn't a huge deal to most people. Hell, half of my friends don't even like Green Day. And that's fine. They're all crazy people, but I accept that. I, however, grew up listening to Green Day. My first Green Day album purchase was Nimrod, when I was in 7th grade. (Holy shit, that was 10 years ago). I remember being sprawled out on the floor in my room, feeling (or pretending to feel) angsty about something, with "Redundant" on repeat. Green Day shaped my angsty adolescence. Warning was released the same year, and I remain one of the only people who really loves that CD. (Whatever). Shortly following that, I purchased Dookie.

I went to my first Green Day concert (along with Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World) my freshman year of high school. They remain the best band I've ever seen live. Ever.

In 2004, American Idiot was released. I bought it the first weekend. I still think it's completely brilliant, and it was always one of my most played CDs on my iPod. So this year when it make the big leap to Broadway, I was one of the few "theatre folk" who wasn't completely skeptical and expecting a disaster. I knew how brilliant it already was, knew it was written for this kind of project in mind, and didn't even wait a week to see it. Mike and I saw the 4th preview.

This show is totally polarizing - people hate it or love. They get it or they don't get it. It's most definitely not everyone's cup of tea, and I understand why. I love it. Though would I still love it if I weren't a life-long Green Day fan? Hard to say. I see people's complaints - a very loose narrative is the biggest quip with the show. But looking at shows like Hair, I've never needed a totally structured piece of theatre. It tells it's story in a very different way. To me, everything is clear. It's not the most original story in the world, but it's the way that it's done. It connects to people in very different ways - it brings people back to that time, especially in my age group, even though it wasn't so long ago. Someone posed the question on BroadwayWorld - "were we really that angry?" Well, yeah. We really were. I remember being that angry. Are we still that angry? Not in the same ways. Is it still relevant? Absolutely - especially for the people it's talking to. In the same ways that Hair is more relevant than ever. Totally different time periods, same passion and same sentiment.

Anyway, I really love the show. That's the point of that.

So Billie Joe Armstrong stepped into the role of St. Jimmy for one week, and I was there. I burst into tears the minute he entered the stage. And, okay, let me explain this - people have different reactions to different emotions. But for me, I tend to have one gut reaction for every single emotion - sadness, happiness, excitement, anger, fear, anticipation, pride, disappointment, etc., etc. - I cry. When any of these emotions gets big enough and overwhelming enough, I just cry. That's just the way I am. I don't sob or go into hysterics, but I can't help it. My eyes well up. And this was definitely a big and overwhelming moment. I haven't seen him live since 2002. Big stuff.

But what he good? Yeah, he really really was. He energized the show in a completely new way. It wasn't a question of him being able to sing it - obviously he can. He wrote the damn music and still performs it all over the world. (And, btw, how does his voice still sound the same? And moreover, how does he still look 15? My theory: highlander). I was really surprised that he really came out as an actor. I'm not saying he's going to be playing Hamlet any time soon, but he wasn't just doing this for publicity or for shits and giggles. He really invested himself in it. And that's impressive. This guy tours with Green Day and plays in stadiums full of thousands and thousands of people. And this week he's in front of a (comparatively) small house and really putting his entire self into it. (Or is really good at faking it). His take on St. Jimmy was pretty different from Tony Vincent's. He was goofier, while still being menacing. He found a lot more laughs, in places I hadn't expected them. During his last exit, he sat up and smiled at the audience, waving himself off. He's clearly having a good time. Maybe even... the time... of his... LIFE?! Couldn't resist. But that's a nice transition...

And then there was, of course, the curtain call finale. And this is where I cried like a little schoolgirl. The minute he started playing Good Riddance, that was it. This song is nostalgic for anyone in my generation. It was really special to see him sing it live again, especially with the rest of the cast. Two worlds, and two of my favorite things, came together - musical theatre and Green Day. Did they get this idea from my subconscious or what?!

Didn't I say this was going to be a good fall?

Next this week: Jake Gyllenhaal Saturday night, Steve Carell Sunday morning. Hopefully Aaron Sorkin tomorrow night. (CAN YOU IMAGINE?!)

And, btw, my favorite TwitPic ever posted ever:
@GreenDay: Your favorite musical sucks. American Idiot rules! Fuck me hard! XXxxxxxxxxX st Jimmy"

*K


1 comments:

    Woo Green Day! /Jealous. I've always thought that my adolescence could easily be summed up in Green Day songs, but you said it best...There's probably a good percentage of our generation who feels that way.

     

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