Three best friends want to escape the doldrums of Suburbia, U.S.A., in “American Idiot.”
Jake Epstein, who plays one of those friends, says he can relate.
“You grow up wanting to bang your head onto something, just to entertain yourself,” says Epstein, who is most recognizable from his “Degrassi” days.
“I’m one of the very few Canadians in the cast,” says the performer, who grew up outside of Toronto. “Coming to the U.S. feels a bit like leaving suburbia.”
Right before his character, Will, plans to escape to the city, he finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant.
“So Will gets left behind,” says Epstein. “He spends the majority of the show on a couch, smoking and drinking himself into a depression.”
Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong wrote the musical based off the punk rock band’s 2004 “American Idiot” album.
“All the storytelling is told through Green Day’s original songs,” Epstein says. “There’s very little dialogue, so you really have to listen to the lyrics.”
The performer says he’ll always have a soft spot for the band, not just because of this musical: “The very first concert I went to was a Green Day concert when I was 12. I begged my parents to allow me to go. ... It really opened my eyes to a world of performing and rock music.”
‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’
The show takes place in 2004, and it has some political undertones. “There’s a character that goes to war. Another spirals into a world of drugs. Then there’s my character, who’s going nowhere in his life. It sounds a bit depressing, now that I’m saying it all out loud,” says Epstein with a laugh. “But these are realities that people deal with.”