‘American Idiot’: It’s something unpredictable

Gabrielle McClinton, third from left, will soon be a name you’ll recognize,
even though her character’s name in “American Idiot” is Whatsername.

Punk rock band Green Day’s 2004 anthem of angst-riddled, disenfranchised youth has become a two-time Tony Award-winning musical currently playing a far-too-short run at the Boston Opera House.

The post-9/11, Bush-fueled dissatisfaction that prompts three suburban teens to leave their 7-Eleven-shopping, TV-watching lives in search of a more meaningful existence is really just the catalyst for this engrossing musical journey. It’s songs like “Jesus of Suburbia,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Extraordinary Girl” and “21 Guns” that make it such a captivating story.

Though “American Idiot” feels more like rock opera than musical theater, much of this production’s success is directly attributable to a stellar ensemble delivering both extraordinary musical performances and heartbreakingly real portrayals of teens stumbling their way into adulthood.

Van Hughes is exhaustingly authentic as Johnny, the young man who finds more than big dreams in the big city. By the time he sings “Wake Me Up When September Ends” you’ll have loved him, hated him and finally be so glad he’s made it.

Gabrielle McClinton is equally intriguing as his first love Whatsername, while Scott Campbell and Jake Epstein deliver first-rate performances as best buddies Tunny and Will.

Christine Jones’ superb set, Steven Hoggett’s aggressive, athletic choreography and Darrel Maloney’s flashing TV screens provide the finishing touches that make this production top-notch.

Plot points

Bored with life in the ’burbs, two young men flee for the big city while one stays home with his pregnant girlfriend. Their journeys are chronicled through every song from the album “American Idiot” and several from “21st Century Breakdown.” Stick around for the encore; you’ll have the time of your life.


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