Green Day rock musical opens in Berkeley

September 18, 2009 2:44:48 PM PDT
Berkeley is still rocking after Wednesday night's world premier opening of the high energy rock musical "American Idiot" at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. It is based on the album by the Bay Area's Green Day.

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The album "American Idiot" is about disillusionment and the frustration of kids in the suburbs. It has sold more than 16 million copies. The show has had the biggest advance sales in the Berkeley Repertory Theatre's history.

It's music from Billie Joe, Mike and Tre -- hometown guys.

"We were thinking about how to sort of, in terms of rock theatre, not rock opera really," said lead vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong.

Then they brought in the pros to make it a theatre piece.

"There's this unbelievable desire to scream out this intense anger, and yet the music is so melodic," said director Michael Mayer.

Tom Kitt did the orchestrations. He won a Tony this year, beating out Elton John.

"I went very slowly because I wanted to make sure Green Day was comfortable with every step that I was taking," said Kitt.

Armstrong's lyrics now sung by a cast of 19.

"You know they stuck to the integrity of the album. That's what we were so excited about," said Armstrong. "And then they added more to it, like with the story line. I think in a lot of ways, in certain respects, they've made the album even better."

Green Day started in the Berkeley underground punk scene in the 1990s. They have sold more than 22 million records in the United States.

Sure they are superstars, but you could find them shopping at your neighborhood market.

"We're Bay Area guys. I mean, we'll always be planted here very deeply," said Armstrong.

"I was born in Oakland Highlands. I think the Bay Area has a certain stink to it that we like," said band member Mike Dirnt.

"It's called the Channel 7 News," said band member Tre Cool.

"American Idiot," the stage version, plays through November 1.

More information about the musical can be found at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Web site.

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