When Billy Joe Armstrong and fellow Green Day band members, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool sat down to pen American Idiot, they had a rock opera in mind, drawing inspiration from shows like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and West Side Story. Little did they imagine at that time that the sweat and tears that they put into that rock opera would be played out on a Broadway stage.
Anyone that has listened to the album, cover to cover, knows that the album is centered around Johnny and his dissatisfaction with living in suburbia. The Broadway adaptation took the story from the album and ran with it. Still centering on Johnny, a disillusioned youth who escapes suburbia and his parents’ rules and confinement to find the meaning of it all. To the city he runs to find his freedom. Originally part of a trio, one of his buddies remains at home to salvage his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend. His other friend joins the army and serves in Iraq. During his journey, Johnny finds a part of himself that he grows to loath, meets the love of his life and loses her.
American Idiot began its run at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Berkeley, California, in 2009. While there, the show became the top-grossing show in Berkeley Rep history, the producers extended the limited run twice to November 15, 2009.The following year, the show moved to Broadway, previewing at the St. James Theatre on March 24, 2010 and officially opened on April 20, 2010.
American Idiot didn’t exactly garner glowing reviews from all the critics when it first opened, but eventually received the vital shining review from The New York Times. The Musical walked away with two Tony Awards in 2010 for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for Christine Jones and Best Lighting Design of a Musical for Kevin Adams. American Idiot also received the prestigious nomination for Best Musical.
The Broadway show struggled to make ends meet as it was rumored to $ 8 -10 million to produce. Five months after it opened on Broadway, Billy Joe Armstrong tweeted on the official Green Day account that from September 28 to October 3, 2010 he would play the role of St. Jimmy, previously being played by Tony Vincent. This Tweet had immediate effects as it led to an instantaneous increase in sales for American Idiot tickets at the St. James Theatre. Ticket sales for the week Armstrong performed were up 77%, gross sales increased 127% from the previous week’s totals, and average ticket prices increased 22%,. A couple weeks ago, the producers announced that Armstrong would make another 50 appearances as St. Jimmy between January 1 and February 27, 2011.