Tag Archives: Michael Mayer


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, you Green Day fans, you!

Green Day's Pink Bunny! - From

I realize that I haven’t posted anything since December 5th when Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits came through NYC and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, the holiday season did me in mentally and physically from Thanksgiving to Christmas and I had to take a little break from writing. I’m happy to report, though, that I saw Bobby Joe Ebola’s Corbett and Dan as well as Honah Lee in Trenton and was able to catch all of Bobby Joe Ebola’s NYC and Brooklyn shows. They are the nicest guys ever and made it back to the East Bay safe and sound after the tour. Good Times and Good News! They are releasing more music mayhem in the coming year, I’ll keep you posted.

There’s not that much news-wise going on with Green Day at the moment since their tour ended, but Mike Dirnt and his wife Brittney did have a baby daughter in November by the name of Ryan Ruby. Congrats to them! I also heard that Billie Joe and Tre played a club somewhere in California, but I really didn’t pay that much attention to it. News leaked through a Chicago blog that Billie Joe was in town talking with producers about a Chicago-based run of American Idiot, but, it’s a blog and those are rumors, so take it with a grain of salt. I post off-the-beaten trail news items on my GreenDayMind Twitter, so go and follow me for Green Day and American Idiot items as well as news of other bands. Other than that, it’s been pretty quiet mostly, and you can read up on any other information about the band on their official site, and of course, the GreenDayAuthority, as well.

Yes, it is Awesome as Fuck – Live CD/DVD, March 2011 put up a pre-sale announcement regarding Green Day’s upcoming live CD/DVD called “Awesome As Fuck,” or… AAF for short. As you may know, the title comes from signs made by fans that morphed from a “Thanks” to Green Day in Paris to letting Green Day know that they were “Awesome As Fuck” in Denver and a simple, “Welcome Home” in San Francisco. If you’d like to read more about the signs, you can read a post I wrote back in September that explains both the origin of the signs and the Awesome As Fuck phrase linked to it recently, and that kinda made my day! But don’t read the comments to the Punk News posting, because of course “punks” hate Green Day and take every opportunity to slag them off that they can take. They are arses.

Green Day’s Youtube Channel briefly posted a banner announcing the album, but it was quickly taken down. Fortunately, someone at the Green Day Community snagged it before it disappeared:

Awesome as Fuck Live CD/DVD Banner

It’s a great logo and amazing that Green Day’s Pink Bunny will possibly be the artwork for the album. There’s no official details on the nature of the recording yet, but word on the street is that the DVD portion of the set is from a show in Japan and that the live album CD will be from Green Day’s North American Amphitheater Tour from this summer, but nothing is confirmed yet. I repeat: Nothing is Confirmed Yet, so don’t ask me because I don’t know! All we really know is that the title of the live album will be Awesome As Fuck and that the release date as of now is March 15, 2011, so stay tuned until further notice!

Billie Joe on Broadway Returns for January/February Run and New York
Interview with Michael Mayer and Patrick Healey

Billie Joe at St. Jimmy - Photo by Getty?

Billie Joe returns to Broadway in January and February, and Green Day Land is abuzz with excitement. Fortunately fans from around the world will be coming in for it, but unfortunately, those same fans have to be prepared for bad weather that may get them stuck coming in and out of New York City. In fact, as I write this, I’m stuck in Detroit (my hometown) after my flight back to New York was cancelled on Sunday due to a snow thunderstorm/blizzard that hit the East Coast and shut down travel from trains, planes and automobiles. If you’ve ever been stuck in Detroit, you know that I’m miserable, but, I’ll get out eventually. I hope. All I can say is be prepared for winter weather. I remember when I went to see Pinhead Gunpowder back in February when a winter storm caused major havoc and I had to scramble to get to Berkeley for the once-in-a-lifetime chance of seeing the mercurial Pinhead Gunpowder play a benefit show at 924 Gilman for their friend, Anandi. It was well-worth it, but nerve-wracking nonetheless. We are all going to pretend that the weather will be lovely from here on out and everyone coming in from the nether regions of the world to see Billie Joe on Broadway will encounter only good weather and good times. Prayers to the Lushie Gods are certainly in order for that one! Billie Joe will be back starting this weekend, January 1st, and though he will have two weeks off during the two months, there will be a total of fifty performances with him staring as St. Jimmy. The schedule for Billie Joe’s performances can be found at the American Idiot on Broadway site. Tony Vincent, who originated the role of St. Jimmy that Billie Joe will be doing, leaves the cast as of December 30, 2010. I was going to see Tony again in the show this week, but sadly, Snowpacalypse 2010 will now prevent that.

Patrick Healey, an Arts and Entertainment writer at the New York Times, will be interviewing Armstrong and Michael Mayer coming up on January 9th at the Times Building on 43rd and 8th Avenue. (Information on the sold-out event can be found here.) If you remember when Jordan Roth interviewed Armstrong and Mayer at the 92 Street Y back in September, the questions were pretty run-of-the-mill and, well, tame. Of course, at the American Idiot talkbacks, there were a lot of good questions as well as uninformative ones such as “Can I give you a hug, Billie Joe?” but I have a feeling that Healey just won’t be asking the questions that are really on the minds of fans, and with that in mind, the ever-funny Abbey Fox has written up a Twitter-based list of 17 questions that she would like to ask Billie Joe.

I don’t really want to see Billie Joe’s feet (though if the opportunity arose…), but she has composed some classic and funny rejoinders that will unfortunately, never be asked, but are on the minds of many Green Day fans – or, at least the Mind of Abbey. I asked her if I could reprint her questions below. Here’s the list, and let’s hope that Healey will get the message and ask at least one question. After all, Jordan Roth did use one of Abbey’s questions at the 92 Street Y. I hope you are reading this, Healey!



1) Can we see your feet? @greenday

2) Tom Fucking Kitt. Have you licked his face? @GreenDay

3) What can you tell us about AI the movie project. And no bullshit, you gonna play St. Jimmy or what? Cuz you should. @greenday

4) You said you felt like a goddamed Bway rookie & you fucking loved it. What might you look to next to feel like a rookie again? @greenday

5) Your Steve Jobs rant in South America. WTF? @greenday

6) In 2010 @GreenDay gave us the summer USA HO AS HELL TOUR. Any chance Reverend Strychnine Twitch launches a 2011 HOS IN HELL TOUR?

7) When are you going to create a line of mens and womens socks? Discuss. @greenday

8. What was the best gift you got or gave for Xmas? Worst? @greenday

9) Tell us about creating a distinctly different St. Jimmy than Tony Vincent’s. @greenday

10) Rodeo Queens: future plans? Or just drinky time fun? @greenday

11) Tell us about AWESOME AS FUCK and the live cd/dvd. Do you realize how much fans shit themselves when they saw the AAF title?

12) Of all your side projects, which one, if any, are you itching to get back to next? @greenday

13) As AI comes to a close how will you keep these amazingly talented people tangled in your @GreenDay web? Where does the show go next?

14) We’ve heard you have a lot of new shit written. Any connected theme thru it? Tell us about it. @greenday

15) What’s the status of getting a new @GreenDay man cave? Where do you go when Mrs. Armstrong tells you to get the fuck outta the house?

16) Whats the fucking deal with dropping twitter like a bad pit stagediver? @greenday

17) The audience heard you shrieking backstage before your St. Jimmy entrance. It got the audience pumped too. Tell us about that. @greenday

And with that, I’m going to go back to my Mom’s house in Detroit and be stuck some more until I can manage to make it to NYC. I hope you all had a lovely holiday and an excellent upcoming New Year’s Eve.

Best, Green Day Mind


A Week With An American Idiot – Idiot University

Some Dude, aka, Billie Joe Armstrong - American Idiot Talkback, 9/19/10 - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

Three Points - Brooklyn, Wednesday, 9/14/10 - Photo by GDM

Last week in New York began with a storm, literally. On Tuesday, September 14th, 2010, the day that Billie Joe Armstrong was to attend the first of a series of five American Idiot University Talkbacks — opportunities for students to hear the creative team and cast talk about the show and ask questions (a tradition on Broadway) — tornadoes touched down in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens. The storm devastated the trees of our city landscape and caused a hella lot of damage. I can’t say it’s because Billie Joe, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool swept into town that day; they were already here. Billie Joe appeared at the Stand Up 2 Cancer telethon on Friday, September 10th, 2010. [VIDEO/DONATE HERE] On Monday, September 13th, 2010, Green Day, along with touring musicians, Jason White, Jason Freese and Jeff Matika, and the full cast of American Idiot performed “Last of the American Girls” at New York Jets stadium in New Jersey. [AUDIO/VIDEO HERE] I was originally unsure about the choice of songs until I saw the performance. LOTAG at a football game? Come on, it’s about girls, but frankly, it’s about powerful girls, and women that can blow up cars with the strength of their thoughts; have you seen the music video of it? Who needs football when you have that kind of power! [VIDEO HERE]

Green Day and Cast - New York Jets Stadium Opening - Photo GDA Picture Vault

Green Day and the cast sounded great, with the women of the cast surrounding the band, singing in harmony with Billie Joe’s lead and adding some intricate melodies (Tom Kitt arranged, perhaps?), even if their mics were a bit low. The boys of the American Idiot show? They were relegated to the back risers, rocking out and trying not to fall off at the same time. Billie Joe sounded, and frankly, looked, great. Like a rock star, cause he is one.

Billie Joe with PBR Cans for Autographs - Photo by Green Day Mind

There is another side to the dude, though, and over five nights, despite having a head cold, and ending with a huge appearance at the 92StY in a talk with Jujamcyn Theaters president, Jordan Roth, and AI director, Michael Mayer, Billie Joe Armstrong donned his flannels and his old man Kangol hat (which covered up the remaining vibrant and brassy blond still at the ends of his hair) and sat down and just talked about American Idiot, the album, and American Idiot, the Broadway show. Like a dude, who happened to have a show on Broadway, and feeling, in his own words, like a rookie again.

I would love to sit down and have a small group conversation with Billie Joe Armstrong about theater and performance. I love the theater, particularly experimental theater or anything that pushes the performance edge, but alas since that has a slim, if not zero percent, chance of happening, the next best thing was to spend five nights in the St. James Theater, three of them watching American Idiot, five talkbacks, and ending with the 92StY on Sunday, September 19th.

Two Nights with An American Idiot – Berkeley Repertory Theater – September 2009

Heart Like a Hand Grenade

When I saw American Idiot in Berkeley for two nights back in September of 2009, I was worried about two things: that I would hate the show and that my love and sense of experimental theater (which I suffer from acutely), would walk away feeling that the album American Idiot was slaughtered by Broadway. I am not a big fan of Broadway. Too much money and glitz and not enough shows that appeal to my sense of theatrical anarchy. My theater tends to lurk in dark and dank black boxes, with minimal theatrical assets. I’m always looking for the real and the crazy in a show, something that makes me look at the world in a different way, from a different angle. I’m a theater punk, what can I say? Don’t give it to me straight, give it to me strange and odd, is my theatrical motto.

I wrote about the show in a brutally honest way: the book needed growth and character/actor depth, but was essentially solid; the orchestration (and hence the music itself) was the star of the show; there was too much choreography that gave lip service to punk denizens; John Gallagher, Jr. wasn’t bringing the rage and love to the Johnny character; the set was brilliant and video outstanding; the female vocals were fabulous; and the director wasn’t necessarily the right man for the job, but he could sufficiently get the job done. What bothered me most was that the show did not bring the “rage and love” of the iconic heart grenade image of the American Idiot album. I wanted the line, “she’s holding onto my heart like a handgrenade,” made real. Pull that pin out and make it explode, just like the album and the songs as sung live by Green Day do. I wanted that. I didn’t get it from the overall production that first night. I knew, however, that it was in workshop form and still developing, but I was actually a bit panicked about the entire process of seeing the show. I had to have a few drinks afterward and a bit of a cry. [Read GDM Review here: Pt. 1 (Book); Pt. 2 (Arrangement and Cast); Pt. 3 (Choreography and Direction)]

Pull the Pin and See What Happens

On night two, I let the critic and punk theater snob in me go. I listened to the show and watched what I saw onstage from the standpoint of its star, the music and arrangement of American Idiot, and I knew that I would be in love by the time this punk rock opera came to Broadway.

Fast Forward to the Present

The Rookie Again (And What An Outfit) - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

Since September 2009, I’ve seen the show a bajillion times on Broadway. I take every opportunity to tell my Broadway and theater friends to go and see it before it closes, which is currently scheduled for the end of January 2011 (though B’way shows can abruptly close prior to their official dates, so see it now!). The reaction from them has been mixed, but the majority are quite taken with it. My friend Yana Landowne, a director in New York City, recently told me that she saw the show and wept at the end. While she wasn’t absolutely familiar with the album prior to seeing the show, she told me that the music combined with the overall design and the enthusiasm of the cast, along with a powerful story of youth setting out on their own and failing, moved her more than anything she’s seen on Broadway in a long time. Yana and I were both members of the theatrical, satirical and political group, Billionaires For Bush during the 00’s, and we fought hard and long to bring the economic realities of the Bush Administration to the attention of America: the man was made by the elite and wealthy of this country and for those same people. His administration had nothing of good for the economic welfare of middle-class and lower middle-class Americans. We thought we could make a difference if we told the people what was happening, but alas, he was elected President again in 2004. For a long while, we felt like (and still do in many regards), utter failures in our attempts at life, just like Johnny, Will, and Tunny, the three lead characters of the show, with one failing at life in the big city, another suffering from being a clueless and stoned unexpected parent, and the third a kid caught up in the shiny glamor of televised reality teevee-war, who looses a leg, but gains the love of an Extraordinary Girl in the process. They left home and loss the game of life, but at the least they tried as hard or well as they could.

Last week, I saw American Idiot three times. By the time the show ended on the second night, from my seat in the balcony, I was crying from the emotional journey of the young adults onstage who had taken the show and pulled the emotional pin out of my bleeding heart. I’ve encouraged Green Day fans to see the show, too. Some of them are super enthusiastic, while others, not so much. I’ve read more than a few Green Day fans who despise the idea of American Idiot being on Broadway. They have only seen clips of the show on Youtube, or the cast singing with the band on the Grammies, the Tonys, or last last week at the New York Jets game, and because of whatever reasons (‘I want to see the band, not those cast members,’ ‘The actors are trying to get famous from Green Day,’ ‘I hate that Broadway musical shit,’ “The music is destroyed’), their minds are closed to the larger picture of what Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer have created: a modern-day opera of immediacy and relevancy that stays true to the music and ideas that we fell in love with from the album in the first place. It doesn’t destroy the original album but brings it literally, to life.

American Idiot University

American Idiot University with Panel and Set - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

The talkbacks during the week of September 14-19th, 2001, were pretty neat. I’ve noted a few times in posts how I sneaked into two of the talkbacks. I even told Tom Hulce that I sneaked into two, treating them as “second-acting it,” used by Broadway-goers to walk into a theater for the second act of a show. He said, “I understand, I’ve first-acted a few shows in my life. Thank you for coming.” I’ve spoken with Michael Mayer and a few of the cast members here and there at various events, but it was the first time that I had spoken with Hulce. Why I told him that, I don’t know, but I have the spirit and mind of Green Day: a tendency to say anything off the top of my head, and sneak to the pit from the lawn if you can; take the rules and bend them if you must. The opportunity to see a bunch of Green Day fans and hear Billie Joe Armstrong talk about the show was too great of an opportunity to let safely pass by.

On Friday, I found myself hanging out with Larry Livermore, along with Tony Anastasi from England, ToniAnn Graffigna from Staten Island, Lauren Banjo from New Jersey and a few other Green Day fans. I mentioned to Larry (who I’ve met here and there at shows in NYC) that I wanted to one day write academically about the show. When I said it, he scoffed under his breathe, and while at the time it hurt a bit, I had to realize who I was talking to, the man who gave the first incarnation of Green Day, Sweet Children and Green Day, their first starts back in day. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon, and yes, he’s a punk, and he’s probably heard it all when it comes to Green Day and fans. I’ve often wanted to talk to him about the history of Green Day and East Bay punk, but I’m always afraid of getting that same scoffing reaction, so I never bring it up. Sadly.

David Cote, Time Out New York Head Theater Critic - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

David Cote, the lead theater critic of Time Out New York, moderated the talks. Over the five nights the panel included: Billie Joe Armstrong, director Michael Mayer, lightning designer Kevin Adams and set designer Christine Jones (both Tony Award winners for the show), arranger/orchestrator Tom Kitt, video/production designer Darrel Maloney, assistant choreographer Lorrin Lotarro, costume designer Andrea Lauer, music director Carmel Dean and assistant music conductor, Jared Stein, and actors John Gallagher, Jr., Michael Esper, Stark Sands, Tony Vincent, Declan Bennant, Ben Thompson, Gerard Canonico, Christina Sajous, and Alyssha Umphress. The second and fourth nights of talkbacks, I recorded the audio so that I could remember what was said. SundayMorning6AM from the Green Day Community YouTubed the event on 9/15/10, and you can watch the three parts here: Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 2.

American Idiot University Q&A

Below are paraphrased questions and answers of two of the talkbacks that I attended. I’ve transcribed things as well as possible, but hey, I do not get paid for this, so take it with a grain of salt at how completely accurate exact “ums” and y’knows” are. The majority of questions were asked by Cote. Please note for Green Day fans who may not be familiar with theater jargon, there is technical stuff about theater below in general, i.e., “ownership” means taking the play/musical form within yourself as an actor in a performance, going all out in portrayal of character and script; “movement,” is the contrast between ‘real’ everyday movement and that portrayed as stylized in a show, can be used in dance or non-musical performances as well as musical ones and comes primarily from experimental theater ideas.

I’ve taken the time out to transcribe two of these sessions because I feel it’s really important for Green Day and non-Green Day fans to understand where both Green Day and the cast are coming from… a place of love for what they have created. Of course, for those who haven’t seen the show, many things may not be understandable in terms of the stage action.

Of course, my personal highlight of the entire five nights is that my blog was mentioned as an opening comment on the second night. You can see that below.

Green Day Mind Blog Mentioned at American Idiot Talkbacks. Thank you, David! – Video by sundaymorning6am

Are the characters in the show punks by your definition?

Billie Joe Answers A Question - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

Billie Joe: Not necessarily. I don’t think so. It’s like the outcasts come in all different forms, not necessarily a punk rocker, whether you are, I have no idea, all the other alternative lifestyles out there… I think from us, that’s our background for sure, and it’s ground zero for us, and we are like, the mafia, once you think you’re out, you’re back in.

Billie Joe on hearing a workshop of the show for the first time.

Billie Joe: … The first time everyone was sitting down and I didn’t know what to expect and I had a really bad hangover. So, I came in and I watched. We came in on the West Side Highway and it was slow and there was this big… very large man with his asscrack hanging out in a car that was stopped in front of us, ‘What the hell is this guy doing?,’ and we’d go and take off, and we actually get there and uh… I had a bagel and some Advil. So we were watching and all these voices came out with Tom Kitt who did all the musical direction, so all these voices came out, it was like whack-a-mole… y’know, out of nowhere, here’s this voice here and it’s coming all together, and it was just beautiful to hear the arrangements put in that way. And for a while I so wanted to get away from American Idiot because we were doing 21st Century Breakdown, but to hear it performed in that way, was just like, it was totally refreshed. And it was brand new to me.

Can you tell us a little how you first got introduced to American Idiot and what attracted you to it?

Michael Mayer, Director and Book Co-Writer, American Idiot - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

Michael Mayer: I listened to the album when it first came out.. and I was driving everyday [in L.A. working on a movie]… and that was the CD I listened to in the car, pretty much non-stop for six weeks. Wherever I left off, I would drive and listen to it on the way back. And after a while I realized I was hearing a story inside it, and listening over and over to it again, and it started calling to me in the same way that a cast recording would call to me, like when I was a little fag back in Rockville MD, when I was listening to live show tunes, “Oh this is my favorite song, this is my favorite song.”… So it was this incredible collection of songs, but the story in it spoke to me, maybe because I’m from Rockville, MD (where one should not go back to) and moved to the city, and was like the character of Jesus of Suburbia, so I related to it. And it seemed really stage-worthy to me, and it felt like a punk rock opera, or rock opera, or something opera-ish.

Can you address the arc of the story, it starts with incredible dissatisfaction with suburban blandness, but ends with a homecoming. As someone that doesn’t speak too well of returning to Rockville, is there a message there?

Michael Mayer: … Where you come from is a little bit of who you are. And something essential gets lost in a person if they look for… something that… can’t be integrated into themselves, and these characters are all in danger of losing themselves. And part of what the homecoming is, is that they come back and reclaim something that is essential about themselves and may be the thing that will bring them to a better future than what they had before their journey.

David Cote to Darrel Maloney, video and production designer on the pattern and chaos of video used in the show.

Darrel Maloney: I think we all knew what “American Idiot” [the song] was going to look like, and how that was going to work, but then after that… I was kinda terrified whether the video screens would stay on after that and what’s that going to be and how people would react in front of this video that was happening. And oddly enough as it went on, we started adding more video, and what I realized was two things that people could [react to]: one was chaos and one was pattern, but if you turned a video monitor on to one side of the theater, people would look there and be distracted, but if you have 43 of them, they could actually sit back and watch all of them as a background to the actor.

Michael Mayer: You know what else was kind of cool that we discovered in the process was finding when the video projection would happen… on the walls, using the whole set as a screen because that changed how we would have to light everything and the staging. We thought early on [in the show] that we would use it more, but decided not until “Holiday,” until we were actually making a movie up there.

Lorrin Lotarro, assistant choreographer, on the rock concert-type movement in the show.

Lorrin Lotarro: We saw Billie Joe jump off the stage and into everybody’s arms and we decided to put that into the show, body surfing… into the show… The thing about [choreographer] Stephen Hoggett that is so brilliant, that he opened up my mind to what movement means, dance is movement, just simple movement, that it doesn’t mean that it has to be technical movement, and we had this group of amazing actors who were great movers, but if you asked them to warm up at the barre [a railing used by ballet dancers for warm-ups], they would bring in some beers. What Stephen did was to create a way of movement that meant something to the actors that everyone could do…. and [was worked on] collectively and collaboratively. Bring two moves into rehearsal that would bring out your idea of living in a small town, punching, anything you want… We faced each other in a circle and taught each other the movement…. The actors felt a real sense of authority, and I’ve never had to give a note on acting full out since they all felt a sense of ownership of the material.

Michael Esper (Will) on the violent (frenetic) movement in the show and how the actors work with it and not twist ankles. Esper noted that he had twisted both of his ankles during the show.

Michael Esper: We do feel a sense a ownership and we’ve created it as a sense of family and we became a family so easily, so it’s easy to… do it together and have a good time. Injuries are all worth it in the end because you are doing American Idiot.

Stark Sands on the development of his character, Tunny, who goes off to fight in the war and takes a wrenching personal journey in the process.

Mayer, Gallagher, Jr., Sands, and Vincent - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

Stark Sands: I played a soldier a few times before this, and that really helped me sort of build the ideas of where he’s coming from. I’ve never played someone who joined up, they were already in to it. So that was very interesting investigating what would make someone want to… Michael was really great in helping me and allowing me to build this with his help in deciding why this guy would join up, why he would put himself out there like that. I was too scared to walk onstage and just sing pretty because otherwise… I found a way to make it meaningful for me and hopefully that carries out. It’s a really wonderfully rewarding journey to take, and at the end of it, I feel like I walk away with something… I’ve actually found something to take home and I don’t end up punching and kicking, up on the stage.

Billie Joe: There’s a lot of vets that have come to the show, and I’ve heard a lot of comments about his performance and how they relate to it. I think that’s a big deal, especially with a lot of these guys coming home right now.

John, your character loves and looses in a big way. Do you draw a lot of personal history from that?

John Gallagher, Jr.: Absolutely, as much as you can. In Johnny’s case, it’s rather extreme, I think… Johnny and the other characters are in a state of arrested development where, y’know, I’m 26 years old, and we decided that he’s about 25-26, at this point where he should be in a different kind of place in life, a much more developed and mature place, but for a variety of different reasons, he’s really stunted, he comes from this really broken family. It’s the love story that you find in a lot of adolescent kinds of films or plays or stories, that first love you find when you’re about 17-18 and you fall in love. I don’t think that his character, other than the camaraderie and the love that he shares from his brothers, his best friends, Will and Tunny… I don’t think that he’s ever been shown any real love since his father passed away at a young age. This is the story that we came up with for him, that’s only hinted at in those letters and journal entries. While that is kind of vague… we really wanted to make sure that was solid and that we had a full backstory [an actors ‘blueprint’ to a character]. And in his case, it’s really complicated because when you haven’t been given the tools to figure out how to love someone and be loved, it can be really messy. He’s going through this troubled time with this kind of split personality situation going on with St. Jimmy and this entity that is not real comes between them [Johnny and Whatsername] and ultimately tears them apart. But there is a lot to be learned from the love… and the loss.

The book [story of the show], the lines between the songs as well as the story that actually doesn’t get spoken, is that all from you, Michael? I know that there is a booklet from American Idiot?

Mayer: Once Billie first gave me the permission to go ahead and start dreaming this up in a real way, he made some materials available to me that I didn’t know about, including a special edition booklet of American Idiot [LINER NOTES HERE], that had these letters and journals entries that [Billie Joe] had written. I was like, oh, OMG, this is gold, y’know… I started playing with them right away and at first, I was extremely faithful to where they were in the booklet as they related to the lyrics. And then I started pulling them apart. By the time we came to New York, I gave some of them to the two other guys [Will and Tunny]… it was just Johnny at first… and then we started finding that we needed fewer of them and I basically changed a few little things here and there… but it’s all grounded in those little journal entries.

I want to ask about the audience reaction to the show. What’s the sort of thing that is happening at the stage door with people? What kind of reactions are you getting from fans?

Ben Thompson: [Gets joking sad face] They all hate it, it’s awful. [General awwh and laughter from audience] No, I mean tonight was a great example, you guys were incredibly exuberant, and I’ve found that, generally, to be the case. I’ve said it before, but we have two… main types of people coming to the show, we have theater fans, and then we have Green Day fans. [Wooo! ensues from audience] Many times at the stage door, people will be like, this is my first B’way show, or I’ve never heard their music before. A great example is my dad. He knew who they were from me, but he had never heard their music… and he now owns, I think, every album. So we are making Green Day fans into theater fans and theater fans into Green Day fans, so it’s like two different groups of people who you would never think could exist in the same world, and thanks to Billie and Michael, they do. [Applause]

Billie Joe: Speaking of fathers, Alysha’s dad surprised her the other day with a Green Day tattoo, a really, really, big one. Alysha tried to show us the tattoo on her cellphone; and related that her dad flew in for Monday Night Football and they were having lunch, and he showed her the tattoo. She literally thought that it was a decal at first. It is the Heart/Handgrenade image of American Idiot.

Stark Sands: And speaking of parents, that’s another thing I would add is that in addition to these two types of people that Ben is talking about, one thing that I really notice is that there are parents who bring their kids here who come out and will be very honest and say, “You know, I didn’t think I was going to like this, but it was awesome!” So that was another wonderful thing to change someone’s perspective for their 13th birthday or something.

I remember one of Michael’s previous shows was Spring Awakening. I wrote a book about it [Spring Awakening, In the Flesh by David Cote]. Parents and children talked about it after the show and the show is about adults exploiting children and children rebelling in various ways. In this, we only see the adults, but has there been some kind of dialogue about the world you’ve created?

Spring Awakening: In the Flesh by David Cote

Mayer: I certainly have seen a few conversations about drug use. I have certainly seen a few parents yanking some kids down the aisle when they see the syringe use, they panic a little bit, but the ones who stay, they see that there is a method to our madness in that regard… But other than that, by and large, it really isn’t about a generational disparity. It really isn’t. The adults that are referred to in this play are absent. It’s a very different world… it’s not about that struggle, it’s about people who should have individuated at this point anyway. It’s more about people becoming an adult as opposed to being a kid and moving into adolescence.

David Cote: I heard somewhere that the show has affected you, Billie Joe [Uh, probably he heard it on this blog?] in the sense that you have added the words [Rebecca Naomi Jones’] “Wake Up” to the song “Letterbomb,” live?

Billie Joe: We weren’t even playing Letterbomb. We’ve only played that song a few times since [it came out], but this last tour we ended up adding it, and I just ended up doing it cause Rebecca Naomi Jones is kinda badass…”

Billie Joe on what it is like to have his songs sung by women.

Billie Joe: Yeah… That was… yeah, that was nice. I remember when Mike first heard them and he said, ‘Wow, your songs sound better when they are sung by women.’ … These women can sing like acrobats, and it’s just beautiful…. Y’know… a lot… uh… They sound better than what I do. They are just beautiful singers, all around. Because of the arrangements, you don’t really know… I mean… Me and Mike and Tre are a three-piece and we are fighting to be heard. I think that’s been the main argument of our band, [us fighting to hear who will be louder]. So hearing arrangements with these women singing them, everything is almost like the music is pulled back and the vocals up in front, you just hear… it adds a whole new dimension, dynamic, and range. I mean, they can sing a frigging dictionary, it’s amazing.

WTF? Maloney, Armstrong, Mayer - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

Iconic image of the album, a handgrenade with a bloody hand, what is the image about?: Billie Joe: Rage and Love. Heart, pull the pin, it’ll explode.”

Where did the idea come from?

X - Unclogged

Billie Joe: John Roecker [director of Live Freaky!, Die Freaky! and the unreleased Green Day documentary, Heart Like A Hand Grenade],… inspired by an illustration [Roecker] did of a bloody heart on an X album, and the American Idiot cover illustrator, Chris Bilheimer, came up with the image. Michael Mayer asked, “What came first, the lyric or the image?” Billie Joe: “The image came first, and since we had that, we changed the lyrics. In fact, I was talking with [cast member] Alysha Umphress  and I told her that some of the lyrics got changed because of the art image and she asked me what lyric got changed and I said, ‘Well, “she’s holding onto my heart like a handgrenade, [laughter] and then I said… that’s uh, pretty much it.”

In terms of the original album, The Wall and Tommy and this show have a view of youth culture as perverted and also an attraction to a messianic figure, a sort of darkness, and militarism. Where the Wall and Tommy influences?

Billie Joe: “Yeah, sure, but I would say even before that… I would also say “A Quick One” by the Who… Every single part of that song is catchy; You take power pop to an extreme level, like a song “Dream Police” by Cheap Trick, super catchy chords, very melodic, three chord mayhem, that’s what’s we were trying to go for, very big, very broad strokes.”

Question for Sands, Gallagher, Vincent, Armstrong from 9/19/10 Talkback “Keeping the energy high, balancing rage and love, St Jimmy, meeting veterans, military and relatives” – NYCForest

Audience Questions:

Audience Question: Obviously the audience experience is quite different from a rock show vs a musical, and I had a hard time not moving my feet tonight. What do you think is gained in this adaptation to the stage and the audience member’s experience in a rock show and do you think anything is lost between the two?

Billie Joe: It’s just two different things altogether, really, cause it’s more storytelling here, where in a rock show it’s storytelling, but short storytelling or whatever, where people are… it’s just kinda people losing their shit. I would encourage people to do the same thing here, you don’t have to sit down here. Y’know…. I don’t know, I think there was a lot gained in this experience, I don’t think anything was lost. For me, I think the first time I heard it and it was quieter, that was a real adjustment for me, but you have to hear the story, and that was part of the learning process for me.”

Audience Question: The show is very accessible. I’m thinking of the accessibility of the show vs maintaining the edge of the album, which gives the album resonance. Does the accessibility of the show and the reception of the show surprise you in any way? Because I know that as a band, one of the things you thrive on is being on the edge and being actually perceived that way.

Billie Joe: I think that Michael Mayer is on the edge, that’s what I think we share in common. He didn’t want to do anything that was safe, and that’s why I think he got it and he was right, and that’s why he chose us. Yea, I don’t know, I guess, you might as well be dangerous, there’s no other place to be.

Michael Mayer: I think it’s to the extent that we made any accommodation to this venue, it was all in the service of the story, and never about making the story easier. In some cases from Berkeley to New York we made the story more brutal, we had Tunny loose a leg and in Berkeley he was injured in a kind of non-specific way, and that’s something you don’t see too often, in a realistic way, in a Broadway musical.

David Cote: That reminds me of a question from last night when someone asked about “Time of Your Life” being played at the end of the musical, he said it’s like a happy ending.

"That guy was a smartass..." - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

Billie Joe: Well, the funny thing about that song is that it’s not called “Time of Your Life,” it’s called “Good Riddance” and that snarky little bastard (I’ll say it), he was kinda… he was kinda… a cunt. He knew good and damned well what the answer was to that question, he just wanted to be a smartass. It’s an encore. So, the curtain goes down, and everyone has acoustic guitars and that’s sorta like the rock show aspect of it.

Audience Question: Is there some song that you wished had been put into the show?

Billie Joe: I remember Tom Hulce saying that “East Jesus Nowhere” could have made it into the show. Michael Mayer: Hulce’s assistant is still insisting on trying to put it in somewhere in the show.

Audience Question: For Kevin Adams, lighting designer, I was looking around and you have a shitload of [lighting] instruments, and I’m wondering if doing the lighting design for this show was different from other shows and what were the difficulties of moving the show from Berkeley?

Kevin Adams: The hard thing, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but for the past few years, these rock-pop theater shows have been popular, and I have been very lucky to ride that wave. So I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been able to do Spring Awakening, Passing Strange, Next to Normal, Hair, and this, I think I’ve … so it was just trying to find a way to find different vocabularies for each show. I knew this show was coming up, and I wouldn’t let a bag of tricks, of strobe tricks, that I had be used for Hair because I wanted to use them for this show.

Audience Question: What kind of struggles did you face with trying to develop the album into a stage production, particularly in terms of story and character development?

Michael Mayer: Well, the whole thing was a process, and I wouldn’t say it was a struggle, because it was a beautiful challenge. And I have to say that we all… we had a wonderful time making it. So even where we got stymied at times about how something should look or could function, it was always a groovy experiment, do you know what I mean? That said, I think one of the big challenges was how to parse the lyrics in a way that would make sense as dialogue, monologue, as hallucination, as a source of connection between people that got penetrated by another force coming through at times. How to create true simultaneity, which is one of the great gifts that the design team gave us in this world that can sustain a multiplicity of voices and lives and images and experiences that cascade around each other and impact each other. It was the surgical approach that was a little painstaking. This line has to actually have a question mark… even if you don’t get the rest between that note and the next. That was the trickiest part.

Lauren Banjo, who got Billie Joe to sing the song “Misery” at a soundcheck in Las Vegas last year, asked a question. She wore a tye-die shirt, which is a bit of a running joke between her and Tre Cool, who at the same soundcheck (I think), told her that he ‘hated tye-die and that she couldn’t come to the show unless she changed her shirt.’ So he gave her a Green Day shirt. [Lauren wrote in to say that it was Chris, who ran the Verizon soundcheck contest from last year, the shirt. ] Lauren asked Billie Joe: In 2005, you said in an interview that an American Idiot musical would only happen over your dead body. I have the recording of the interview on my phone if you want to hear it. Billie Joe responded: “Will it be as loud as that tye-die shirt you’re wearing?” Lauren went on to ask why he changed his mind.

Billie Joe Disses Lauren (But hey, the shirt deserved it!) — laurenbanjo

Lauren with Signed Misery Lyrics from Soundcheck in Las Vegas - Photo by GDM

Billie Joe: No, I don’t remember… things come out of my mouth… I can’t even remember… I believe you, you don’t have to play it for everyone… I don’t think it was… we immediately wanted to do it as soon as we were were asked. We were interested in what they had… what Michael had to say. We saw Spring Awakening. We really didn’t know what was going on with musical theater. We saw Spring Awakening, and I was blown away by it. Because it was y’know, something different, y’know, it was new. He’s a revolutionary dude, so…

Audience Question: Was it hard or easy to put the music into a story?

Billie Joe: Making that record was really hard, really difficult to make. If it’s not hard, you’re not doing it right.

Audience Question: How do you as actors prepare for the show?

Ben Thompson: During the rehearsal process, early on, starting at Vassar, our amazing choreographer, Stephen Hoggett, basically put us through boot camp and got us into shape, got our bodies ready for this amazing car wreck. Y’know, I think we each have our own ways of preparing for it. These guys [Gallagher, Esper, Sands, etc] , y’know, their emotional journey that they have to go through every night is a different kind of preparation that is a whole other story. We have a mandatory warmup, which is kind of odd for a Broadway musical. That company that Michael was talking [having been created by the cast in a first workshop stage] about at Vassar… the first five minutes of the warmup, it never fails, [we talk to each other about what happened during the day, even if we just saw each other the night before] and it’s like, ok guys, can we focus, ‘[but] we haven’t seen each other since yesterday!?…’ But the warmup really gets us to start that… unity… that we enjoy.

Audience Question: Since you’re acting opposite St. Jimmy for most of the play, I’m kinda confused. Do you consider him a real character or a feeling? I have also heard another interpretation, that St. Jimmy is like a drug?

John Gallagher, Jr.: That’s a great question. The trickiest part of the rehearsal process… was figuring out the relationship between Johnny and St. Jimmy… What made the most sense was that for the first half of the show is, Johnny is in such a fractured and freaked out place, alone in the big city that he’s come to, doesn’t have any friends, wants to meet girls, he’s feeling like a complete screwup. His buddies, he feels, have abandoned him, and he creates what he needs in that moment, which is… this… protector, and this person to guide him. Guides him down a very dangerous and ultimately, wrong path. I made the choice that Johnny really does think he’s a real person, up until that moment when he says, “It’s time to wake up” after Wake Me Up When September Ends, and he sees St. Jimmy’s face turn into his face on those television sets, it’s that moment where he’s probably sober for the first time in months and realizing… the kind of feeling I read about with a lot of addicts when they look in the mirror and say “That’s not me.” To believe the stakes of the show, Johnny really needs to believe that he’s a real person.

Audience Question: To the cast, how does it feel to be working with Green Day in general?

Alysha Umphress: Amazing. They have been nothing but… so completely generous and involved, I think that has been the best part of it. A lot of times when you have famous people involved in shows, it’s like they show up at opening night and they put their name above the title, and y’know, they take some pictures…. They have been so involved from the very beginning, and it’s been so inspiring, they are amazing. No one can top them.

Audience Question: Billie Joe, how did you reach out to society to write the lyrics to inspire so many?

Billie Joe: How did I reach out to society? I don’t know, um… I’m still struggling with that… rephrase the question… let’s get deep… Audience member: “You write about very important things that are going on in the world. Did you interact with anyone that influenced you to write about these important things?” Billie Joe: I think for me, it was my own confusion about what was going on. I never grew up during a time of war, that kind of chaos, that close to a dictatorship, with a president, ‘he who will not be named’ [Crowd whoops]…. There was a lot of reality television happening at the time. Everyone wanted to see these people who weren’t talented and they just had calf muscles and fake tits and put ’em in a room and eventually, they’ll fuck each other. And then, with this other side, you need this kind of toothpaste or your teeth would fall out. Or your dick’s not gonna get hard because you’re not taking this kind of pill. And then you mix all that in and you see these embedded journalists that were going into Iraq and everything was coming together and seeing this on television. And to see those planes smashing into the World Trade Center, seeing it live, right there. I don’t think we ever really as a society, we’ve never seen anything that that’s up close. These are handheld video cameras, this is the kind of stuff that you shoot your little fucking kids with, you see kids growing up, you see the first time you change a diaper, but here what you see is war, that other side of it, and I don’t think anyone expected it. I know I didn’t. It was just chaos. I was just so confused, I just felt paralyzed, I didn’t know what to say. So the song “American Idiot” was the first thing that came to mind.

Audience Question: Bullet in a Bible was recorded of the biggest punk rock concert in history with over 65,000 people. How does it feel to know that you are trying to recreate that feeling with people [onstage]?

John Gallagher, Jr.: I don’t know that we are necessarily… we can’t… that’s something we couldn’t in a million years do, there is something that happens at a Green Day concert that… can’t ever be recreated by anybody that’s not Green Day, especially at a place like Milton Keynes arena, seen by thousands and thousands of people… But bringing it to this kind of venue [a Broadway theater], especially from an actor’s viewpoint, it’s been so rewarding… but it’s rewarding to me as an actor in a way that some plays can’t… bring you to that place. There is something so cathartic about these songs and this music and performing it, and being given a platform to allow it to grow and dig into it and create these characters. The total sweetener is just the fact that it’s Green Day, some of the greatest music ever written and we get to sing it every night is a total gift.

Green Day as Gateway Drug to the History of Punk and Inspiration to Kids in Flannel Departments Everywhere - Photo by Michelle Lawlor

Happy Anniversary American Idiot and Billie Joe Armstrong at AI Idiot University

First of all, Happy 6th Anniversary today, American Idiot! The album was released on 9/20-9/21/04 in the UK and US, so take some time to revisit the album and say, happy anniversary to it!

Billie Joe Armstrong, Michael Mayer, and some cast and crew of American Idiot on Broadway held a series of “talkbacks” last week at the St. James Theater, moderated by David Cote of Time Out New York, after the show happened from 9/14-9/19. I was lucky enough to attend three performances of the show (thank you Jenne and David! much love to you!) and all five talkbacks (two of which I…uh… just walked in on), and I have to say, it was a special and wonderful time to not only see Billie Joe talk about the show, but to hear great discussions regarding the creative processes of the show itself.

My blog was mentioned at the talkback! Woot! David Cote referred to my interview of Afghan war vet and hardcore Green Day fan, Dawn71, using it as a basis to relate how the show of American Idiot (see video below at 1:01-2:32) reflects real life in terms of war and the impact that it has on life. In the clip below when Green Day Mind is mentioned, Billie Joe kind of shrugs and laughs, saying that “He had never heard of the blog,” but it was pretty amazing for me to sit in the audience and have David refer to the blog in a very serious manner. My blog is kind of strange — a personal journey of sight, sound, performance and life — all from the viewpoint of this past year following Green Day. I’ve put a lot of work and love and rage and time into this crazy blogging project, and though it was a bit strange to have him chuckle at first, it was awesome to hear one of my more serious blog posts used to highlight one of the serious themes of American Idiot. Dawn71 was hella happy to know that her love for the band and a story of her life was mentioned as well. Watch the video below to see!

David Cote mentions “Green Day Mind” at American Idiot Talkback (1:01-2:32)- American Idiot on Broadway — 9/15/10 — sundaymorning6am

The talkbacks themselves, minus the impromptu audience questions, were pretty awesome. I heard some things about the creative process of the show, particularly from the designers, that I had never heard before, and it was pretty great to have the mix of actors come into the talks to discuss the show from their viewpoint. It was all about Billie Joe, though, who was at the center of the maelstrom, and as the week of talkbacks wore on, questions from the audience stopped being serious ones asked about the show, but devolved more into, “can you sing ‘happy birthday’ to my daughter, ‘can I have a hug,’ and ‘can I give you something, Billie Joe?'” It was cool, though. Most folks never get the chance to meet Billie Joe in person, and hey, if you have the opportunity, you have to go for it!

Though American Idiot itself is more of a personal journey and not necessarily a political one (I’ve always looked at it politically moreso than personally, but the album itself is as much personal as anything else), I have to say, that the album literally dragged me through the latter years of the Bush Administration. I truly don’t know what I would have done without it. Thank you, Green Day, for being one of the few bands of the day that dared to speak out against what Billie Joe referred to at one point as the “regime of the Bush administration.” Billie Joe refers to the time of the album being written and the political and social happenings of those dark days after 9/11, below:

Billie Joe, John Gallagher, Jr. Talks About the Depiction of War in American Idiot on Broadway and the Response of War at the Release of the album, American Idiot— bwaddel996

All in all, it was a great time spent with Billie Joe and the people involved in the musical. I was very happy that I had the opportunity to witness the talks. I also went to see John Gallagher, Jr. perform at Rockwood Music Hall on 9/19, and he’s such a nice guy that he talked with a bunch of us crazy fans after the show. He really is a sweet kid! My friend Michelle, of Lucky17 Photography, took a bunch of great pictures at both the final talkback and at John’s show, and when she posts them on her blog, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, I have a few blurry photographs that I took, but a couple of them I just absolutely adore.

Billie Joe with PBR Cans for Autographs - Photo by Green Day Mind

I have never asked the band to sign anything — I sorta hate getting autographs — and the only two pictures I have of me with members of the band were taken by other people (Billie Joe and Mike Dirnt, which was actually taken by Dirnt himself without me asking, good times!), but I just felt that I had to get at least one thing signed, so I did… a new variation of “AWESOME AS FUCK” that Abbey (who Billie Joe tweeted at that he loved, lol, good for Abbey!) came up with, “IDIOT AS FUCK.” Thanks, Billie Joe! UPDATE: Abbey asked Billie Joe and Michael Mayer a pretty long and intense question at the talkback, and I loved the answers given by both men regarding the show. See the video below:

Idiot as Fuck Signed by BJA

Abbey Fox (aka abbie) Asks Billie Joe and Michael Mayer a Question — Whiting1ful

All in all, these talkbacks, combined with Billie Joe and Michael Mayer interviewed by Jordan Roth of the Jujamcyn Theaters at the 92StY on 9/19, were… how shall I say… awesome as fuck, and at times, Idiot as fuck as well. Thank you, American Idiot for the good times! Billie Joe left New York on Monday, to head back to the Bay. Have a great vacay before you head off to South America, and say hello to Mike and Tre for us! I missed them.

American Idiot University at the St. James Theater

American Idiot on Broadway - Click on Image to Stream Album for the Week!

It’s been awhile since I last posted, but I’ve been a bit busy. After attending Green Day’s three shows in California (Irvine, Chula Vista and San Francisco) from August 31-September 5, I spent ten more glorious days in the Bay Area and was… how shall we say… a practicing Lushotologist. I was not necessarily drinking… but I was absorbing all good things that life (or vacation) in the East Bay has to offer. It was magnificent!

I returned to New York City this past Monday and immediately went to work… and to see American Idiot on Broadway and attend “American Idiot University.” This week the show is hosting a series of talkbacks moderated by lead theater critic of Time Out New York, David Cote, for Broadway Week. Billie Joe Armstrong and AI director Michael Mayer are being joined by various cast members (Tuesday night was Theo Stockman, Declan Bennant and Cristina Sajous; Wednesday night was John Gallagher, Jr., Michael Esper and Gerard Canonico), along with set designer Christine Jones, lighting designer Kevin Adams, arranger Tom Kitt, costume designer, Andrea Lauer, music director Carmel Dean, video and production designer, Darrel Maloney, and associate choreographer, Lorrin Lataro.

David Cote was the perfect moderator for the two talkbacks I’ve seen so far (I sneaked into the Tuesday talkback (ssshhh) while friends invited me to attend the show tonight and tomorrow) and led a lively discussion among Billie Joe, Michael Mayer, the creative team and the cast regarding the album, its translation to the stage and the creative impetus of the show. (Full disclosure: I’ve known David since the 1990s and he’s one of the few critics whose opinions I actually trust; we discussed the show earlier this week.) After tomorrow’s talkback — which consisted of about 20 minutes of discussion with the creative team and cast members and 15 minutes of questions from the audience — I hope to post more about the actual discussion itself, but as you know, I’m a bit behind reporting on the California shows as it is, so don’t hold your breath.

There will be three more opportunities to attend American Idiot University: Thursday, September 16th @ 8pm; Friday, September 17th @ 8pm and Sunday, September 19th @ 3pm. Students can buy tickets for $27 depending on availability, but anyone can attend the talkback afterward. I… uh… don’t necessarily recommend sneaking in for the talkbalk like some jerks that I know… me.

As a special bonus for Broadway Week, you can stream for free the entirety of the American Idiot cast album. Click on the cast album cover or here to do so while you can!

Here are a few tiny blurry shots that I took tonight with my iPhone; click on the tiny image to view larger, but still blurry, images.

Coming up this Sunday, the president of the Jujamcyn Theaters including the St. James Theater, Jordan Roth, will be leading talks with Billie Joe and Michael Mayer at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. (For more information on the event, click here.) Audience questions can be submitted to Roth via Twitter at

I’ll be there on Sunday… with an actual ticket. See you there!

Vote for Me to Win A Trip to Lollapalooza! (And some other stuff, too)

Lollapalooza Vote Now for Fan Photo! Help Us Go to Lollapalooza!

I have exactly three photographs of me with celebrities besides those few friends of mine that I know from undergraduate theater school who are still making great theater and a living from it. Those three are: Regis Philbin (I used to work as a researcher for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?), Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt. One day I hope to have a picture with Tre Cool, but we’ll see if that ever happens.

I don’t really like asking “celebrities” for their photos. I can’t really pinpoint why I don’t like it, but it might be because I do know people in the “business,” and know how sometimes it’s just creepy to want people to talk to and take pictures of you all the time. I always feel like pictures should be taken of friends, families and things, not people I don’t know. I’m just strange, what can I say? That doesn’t mean I don’t begrudge others who ask for pictures, I don’t, but I would really just want to hang out, so unless folks are around what I consider friends, I don’t really take a lot of pictures of people that I don’t know that’s not in a performance setting.

Anyway, with that long, tortured intro, one of the three people that I do have a picture with, superstar Mike Dirnt of Green Day (and superstar-in-training, Jim Graz of Honah Lee!), I entered into a contest to try and win tickets, roundtrip air fare and hotel to Lollapalooza, which is coming up in hotter-than-hell-in-the-summertime, Chicago, August 6-8 or something. I should probably go and look that up… hmmm.

Vote for the picture, if you’d like! I kinda love it, it’s crazy funny to me, and that’s the way I like my celebrity photographs. If I win, I’m taking Jim and his girlfriend… yawzah… HOT. Here’s the link to my photo and entry. You can click on the photo below, too!

Mike, Jim of Honah Lee and Me. Click to Vote to Help Us See Mike and Company at Lollapalooza!

The vivacious Toniann is also in the contest, so take a look at hers, too! She has a lot more PR personality than me, but you can vote for more than one person per 24-hour time period. The contest ends on July 25th. Please vote! I’d love to go to Lollapalooza, but, who wouldn’t want to go when Green Day is playing at the festival? I’ve never been to one of them, and Soundgarden (yea, I know, I know, I love them, get over it) is also headlining one of the nights. Here’s to me!

You do have to fill out a short registration form to enter, but I do hope you’ll vote!

I tried to find my photo of me and Regis, but it’s no where to be found. It was taken prior to the digital era and is actually just on paper. Actually, it’s only from 2001, but that seems like ages in Internet years. Anyway, here’s my only other pure celebrity photo, with Billie Joe. I could only submit one photo to the contest, so I had to make a choice. I love both of the photos, but the one with Mike and Jim just makes me laugh a good bellylaugh, so I had to go with it. It’s from the Foxboro Hot Tubs show at Don Hill’s, one of the best nights of my life. The photo below of Billie Joe Armstrong and me is from what I call, “Fake New Years,” back in November when Green Day taped their New Years Eve show for Carson Daly in Los Angeles.

Me and some dude

Green Day Show in Venice Canceled

I was going to write about the canceled Venice show with the wind and hail and evil Venice weather, but it kinda made me so sad to think that the European tour ended by storm, that I didn’t want to think too much about it, so I didn’t write it, but I do have an awesome title for it, “Green Day in Europe Goes Out With a Storm – Venice Canceled Due to Various Acts of God (y’know, Thunder, Lightning, Hail),” haha… I felt really bad for the fans in Venice who didn’t get to see the boys, and I’m sad that the boys didn’t get to go out of Europe with a bang that ended in fireworks instead of lightning. The GDA covered it here [LINK] and here [LINK]

American Idiot on Broadway Cast on Good Morning, America[n Idiot]

This coming Friday, the cast of American Idiot on Broadway will be headlining a Good Morning, America broadcast at Summerstage in Central Park. It’s hella early, but I’m going to go. Here’s info from

You are invited to join the Broadway cast of Green Day’s American Idiot for a free, live concert on Good Morning America in New York’s Central Park! The intimate performance will be at Central Park’s Summerstage this Friday, July 16th. Enter on 72nd and 5th Ave at 6:00AM. The show will take place from 7am-9am EST.

Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer Talk With Jordan Roth

Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer will be interviewed by Jordan Roth, head of the Jujamcyn Theaters, of which the St. James, where American Idiot is playing, is one. Roth hosts a series of theater talks at the 92 Street Y.

Here’s the info and a link where you can get tickets:
Date & Time: Sun, Sep 19, 2010, 7:30pm
Location: Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street
Venue: Kaufmann Concert Hall Seating Chart
Price: $29.00 All Sections

Prima Donna in New York and Hoboken, July 25-26!

Star Fucking Hipsters and Prima Donna at Maxwell's, July 26, 2010. CM Productions

I need to take a few more days off from the blog, I have some work that I have to get finished, but one last thing! Prima Donna will be coming to NYC later in the month to rock our socks off at the Bowery Electric in Manhattan and Maxwell’s in Hoboken on July 25th and July 26th. I’ll post more about the dates as they get nearer. Hope to see you there! The Maxwell’s show is with Star Fucking Hipsters, that’s gonna be a rocking crazy night!

I’ll be back in a couple of days! Please don’t forget to vote!

Two Nights of Fuck Time with the Foxboro Hot Tubs, Night Two

Read about Night One here.

Party! Party! Party! Tour Last Stop: Trenton, 4/24/10

The Party's Over. Party! Tour Says Goodbye

Baby, Lady, Chinatown, Night Moves, Gryptron at Don Hill

The day after Friday’s Foxboro Hot Tubs, Honah Lee, and the Mystic Knights of the Cobra, gig at Don Hill’s in Manhattan, I scrambled to catch a train out to Trenton, to be picked up by Michelle. We headed to Honah Lee Tim’s backyard for a BBQ in the garage made into a bar (an awesome space for clandestine outdoor shows some day), and chilled out before heading to the MillHill Basement for the last stop on the Party! Tour. Honah Lee’s Jim, Dim, and Tony were there while most of the MKOTC had stayed in Manhattan except for Trell, who smartly went to Trenton after the Don Hill show to chill in “the country.” Everyone didn’t meet up again until we all arrived at the little basement venue in downtown Trenton, a room three times smaller than the Bowery Electric would turn out to be, with much lower ceilings.

Now That's a Low Ceiling! Millhill Basement, 4/24/10

Honah Lee's Tim Introduces the Cobras at Millhill. Photo by Rachel K.

It was bittersweet, this last show of two crazy “area” bands, Trenton, NJ and Crockett, CA. East Coast met West Coast and it was good.

As there was the wet of sweat everywhere from Friday’s show at Don Hill’s, Saturday brought the wet of rain from the miserable drizzle happening outside. Both bands were exhausted (four straight nights of playing and partying is hard to do, particularly when you open up for one of the biggest “secret” bands on the planet by the third night) and the smallness of the room, with a tighter, packed house of about 75, was suffocating. Honah Lee and the MKOTC took full advantage of the lack of room and air and the excess of wet, and were all up in the audience’s faces. Though both bands possess the ability to confront their audience, Friday’s extreme FBHT performance rubbed off on both of them. They threw themselves at the audience and the audience, a bit shocked, began throwing themselves back at ’em. The rain kinda made the fact that the party was over, a bit sadder. At bar closing time, the Cobras headed to their hotel, and I went off with Honah Lee. After all, I am of the East Coast, and as always, I had to break myself away from the pull of the East Bay. Plus, the van was full.

Party Squirrel

The next morning, Michelle, Jim, and I went to the Cobra hotel for one more goodbye. Tim, last seen distraught on the sidewalk outside of Millhill, was way too hung over to attempt a goodbye, and Dim and Tony… who the heck knew where they were? With Bryan behind the wheel (he was the engine for the MKOTC, driving the van and wrangling the instruments) and some of the MKOTC having left earlier, I hitched a ride back to the City with the Cobras, and gave my return train ticket to photographer and music buddy, Michelle, who I hoped would go home, change, catch the next train to Manhattan, and come to the FBHT show with us for one last fling with friends. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and it was the final parting of the Party! Party! Party! East Coast Tour.

Pre-Sunday Show – 4/25/10

I dropped my stuff off and went to the venue. I was 60th in line. There are two reasons why I wanted to go to this show. Of course, FBHT was one of them. The other? I wanted to be with friends. Folks who had made each other’s acquaintance, in many shapes and forms and of all political persuasions, over a band. Sometimes it feels like a wonderfully dysfunctional family. And it’s always a hella good time.

Tre and his Bike. Photo by unknown photographer

The line was made up of the usual suspects and many new folks that I had never seen or met. Beth from Missouri (so happy she came back!) and J’net from Oklahoma (who had had a great week all around); Dawn showed up with baked goods (and yummy they were) though she couldn’t stay for the show; crazy sexy Zoe from Oregon with her British dude; Jaime (who provided me with food as I was broke and hadn’t really eaten yet and was feeling faint; the shot of J.D. that I had in line didn’t help either); Cheryl and her husband, and the vivacious ToniAnn, the latter three from the Island of Staten. Andres from the Green Day Authority had stuck around and was holding Dawn’s baked goods to give to the crew. (I would see them eating the delicious brownies later after the show.)

Foxboro Hot Tubs Bowery Electric ticket with morning after sake.

I stood in line from about 3:30 and they gave out tickets at 6:00 or so. It was rainy and cold and miserable outside. By the time 6:00 came around, I was exhausted and barely had energy to stand. Once the tickets were distributed, I went back to the Cobra hotel to hang out, dry off and sit down for a few hours before the show, maybe take a nap. I was close to collapse. By the time we walked back to the venue, I was running on fumes and needed to find a second wind somewhere. Or maybe a fourth by this time. I walked up with the Cobras, but they were on a list, and I was determined not to, at the least, look like, a hanger-on. I had my ticket in my hand and parted from them, walking up to Bill Schneider who was handling the guest list and I sorta proudly flashed my ticket up to him. “See, I have my ticket, baby,” I thought only to myself. Of course he had no idea that my brain had melted from over the last week between the American Idiot opening on B’way and the Party! Tour or at least he probably thought that I was just crazy from the look on my face. I’ve never spoken to him, and he didn’t seem in too good a mood at the start of the show. Probably a lot of stress managing two Foxboro Hot Tubs shows in three days. I can only imagine the logistical nightmare of it all.

Sunday Show – Foxboro Hot Tubs and Emily’s Army – Bowery Electric – 4/25/10

Tiny Space, Big Band. Photo by Bob Gruen

Sunday’s show at the Bowery Electric had a different feel to it from Friday’s more laid-back Don Hill experience. Whereas Friday seemed more lighthearted and giddy, Sunday’s gig seemed darker, grittier, drunker, and slightly more raw. (Then again, I realize that I don’t remember that much about it, except in chunks of drunk.)

(Read a review of Sunday’s Bowery Electric show at Rolling Stone here, though note that RS reported that FBHT did only one GD cover, “St. Jimmy,” when they actually did two, including “Blood, Sex and Booze” as well as “Supermodel Robots” by that crazy German electro-pop-insane band, The Network.)

The Bowery Electric is a split two-level basement site with a high bar rail separating and overlooking the deeper pit area of a floor and stage about the size of my old studio apartment in Brooklyn. Ok, maybe a teeny bit bigger. Sunday’s Foxboro Hot Tubs show was a semi-private party for the cast of American Idiot and friends of the band. One hundred fans were lucky to get tickets to this show, and probably 80 or so friends and family of the band were in attendance. (Larry Livermore, in his blog post on this show, said that there were “100 or so fanatical fans” in attendance. I’d like to say for the record, that we are “focused” not fanatical, thank you very much.) I have no idea how many people the place actually holds, and I avoided looking at the occupancy sign on the wall.

Clicky!: Emily's Army Widget

Sunday night introduced the band, Emily’s Army, to New York. Emily’s Army consists of Cole, Travis, Max, and Joey. (The band has a pretty cool Widget here.). One of the four members is Billie Joe Armstrong’s eldest son. If you don’t know which one he is, it’s time for you to find out. You’ll hear his name, as well as the names of his bandmates, in musical circles for years to come. You can view some YouTube videos of Emily’s Army at Gilman from last year. I’m not that familiar with the band, so you might want to go and read Larry Livermore’s blog posting about this show, which talks a bit more about their set. I liked them and their sound (and it was great to see the Armstrongs being proud parents, too), but they seemed so young to me that I felt a bit like a creepy old woman staring at teenagers and I had to walk away… but from what I saw, Joey is an already excellent drummer and Travis (lead singer and guitar), Cole (guitar), and Max (bass) are solid and have grown stronger since last year’s Gilman videos. With a few more years and experience, this band and its members may lead the next generation’s version of punk. Let’s hope so.

After Emily’s Army set, the 15-year olds were sent home to pats on the back and a “what’s up” here and there. It was now time for the “grownups” to tear the place up.

That second wind I mentioned earlier appeared after I was fueled by a shot of Jägermeister, a drink I hadn’t touched since the mid-1990s when I got so drunk on it, I threw up in neon green. There’s a reason why the Germans call it “liver glue.” As it swept down my throat I fully remembered why I hadn’t consumed it in years, it tastes like NyQuil, but it does the trick in an instant. One shot and you’ve come unglued. Two shots… well, I didn’t let it go that far. I let out a big whoop and felt as if I could move mountains on the dance floor. I would have to. The bar was packed to the gills, but not as tight as the dance floor that I would hit when the FBHT started to play.

John and Rachel.

Some cast members from American Idiot walked in about this time, including Michael Esper, Christina Sajous, Chase Peacock, Theo Stockman, and John Gallagher, Jr. Once again, the sweet and kind Mr. Gallagher shocked me when we ran into each other and he greeted me by name and we shared a teeny moment. Later in the night, we would share dance space during “A Quick One.”

Joan Jett, the Cobra Girls and Management.

During the break and after the Jägermeister, I could do just about anything, and that’s when Joan Jett walked up to near where I was standing with the Cobra Girls, Baby and Lady, along with the tour’s tougher-than-steel management, Rachel K. and Call Me Donna. I turned around, and Jett, who looked like she wanted to talk to the Cobra Girls, was a foot from me. I leaned toward her and said, “Joan Jett, the Cobra Girls would love to take a picture with you!” (I went cameraless this night, so Rachel K. gave me her camera and I clicked a few shots.) Jett said that she had heard about them and wanted to meet them. Needless to say, it was a nice moment. Here we were, in close proximity to a hot and legendary lady of rock ‘n roll. She is opening for Green Day during some of their European shows, including London’s Wembley Stadium. I have a ticket for the show, but I can’t afford a flight to England. Sigh. I saw Joan Jett open for the Police back in 1983, and she was booed by the stupid-assed Detroit crowd. I’ll never forget her walking off of the Cobo Arena stage (now Joe Louis Arena), but not before she said, “Fuck you, Detroit.” She became a heroine to me. I’d wanted to say that same thing to my hometown for years. I would love to see her again in a stadium full of people. Sometimes, though, luck runs out with the Lushie Gods. No Wembley to write about for me. 😦

The Dark Side of Night with the Foxboro Hot Tubs

That setlist looks familiar! - Bowery Electric, 4/25/10

What can I say about this show that I can actually remember? Hmm. Not much. Once the Hot Tubs went on, the night became a complete blur of bodies and heat. I remember plowing to the dance floor with Bryan and Brasesco at the first strains of “Stop, Drop and Roll,” and jumping in sync with everyone around me. I was about two body rows away from the too-low stage at the Bowery Electric, which came to just under the kneecaps. Once you got toward that stage and the bodies behind you pushed forward, you could kiss your knees goodbye forever. Or at least until the bruises healed.

The Church of Lushotology was in session.

Two of Eight? Renditions of “Stop, Drop and Roll”

More Dark Side of Night… or what I can remember of it…

Adrienne Armstrong and Michael Mayer. Photo by Rachel K.

Theo in a boa. Photo by Rachel K.

Luckily, there are a few YouTube videos that have helped jogged my addled memory. Watching the limited video from this show on Youtube is a bit like clutching at dabs of manna from hell. When I look at them and see the brick walls of the club, packed with people and the tiny stage, I’m reminded that this party will be one of those that goes down in rock ‘n roll history. Small and intimate, packed with fan, friend, star, nobody, one on top of each and all going hog-wild in dancing and celebration. Sure, some folks like Adrienne and Michael Mayer, along with Joan Jett (I don’t think she came down into the pit, as I lost sight of her once I headed into it), stayed up by the rail, but I can’t really picture Michael Mayer crowdsurfing. I stayed with Bryan and Brasesco for a long while, and when the first “It’s Fuck Time” broke out, the pit went even wilder than I could imagine [Video]. Inhibitions were gone and it felt damned good. American Idiot cast members were flying left and right and hogging Billie Joe’s stage and he was loving it, until he finally told them that he loved them, but that they had to “get the fuck off of my stage.” No one stays on his stage for very long.

While Michael and Theo and John from American Idiot had some fine crowdsurfing moments, it was Steelthorne from the Green Day Community who wowed me with his surfing skills from the video below. I’ve never met Steelthorne, but we were both at last July’s (2009) Albany show (where I met Bryan and other Green Day Fans for the first time). Albany was my first real Green Day show. There’s a great Chris Dugan picture from either the Albany or Madison Square Garden shows of Steelthorne with a feather boa. Steelthorne gives Billie Joe some of the best boas. See him surf like a pro to “The Pedestrian.” Note also the expert beer exchange and how much The Rev seems to be enjoying it.

Steelthorne Surfs Like a Pro – “The Pedestrian” – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bowery Electric, 4/25/10

Theo Surfs. Photo by Rachel K.

OMG! Photo by Bob Gruen

There is a picture that Bob Gruen took that I would love to buy and hang on my wall. I actually emailed his representative about licensing the photograph (goodness only knows how much that would be), but I haven’t heard back from them. Gruen has a thumbnail posted at his site, of Kevin Preston onstage undoing Billie Joe’s belt buckle with his teeth. The look on each individual face that can be seen captures the dynamic of the room as only a seasoned rock ‘n roll photographer such as Gruen can do. You can see me in the horde with a completely shocked OMG! face. I seriously don’t remember Kevin undoing The Rev’s pants. The only thing I remember is that I was so hot at this point that I had to walk off of the dance floor or spontaneously combust. You can make of that what you will.

Hot Pants. Photo by Rachel K.

It was Reverend Twitch’s red pants that caused the room temperature to go up many notches, surely.

When I walked off and back up toward the bar, I confronted a wall of people on the stairs, mesmerized by the stage.


I somehow made my way through them, and folks were buzzing about Bill Murray having been there, but that he had left. I have no idea. I downed a few glasses of water and hit the pit again.

Chino and The Rev. Photo by Chris Dugan

The Cobra Men, Chino, Night Moves, and Gryptron, along with Bryan and Brasesco, had moved down into the pit front and were forming a tall and thick blockade on Jason Freese’s side of the stage. I couldn’t get near them, and found myself toward the middle of the pit, while Brasesco tried to get me closer to the front, but it wasn’t working. I motioned him to turn toward the stage. I was content on where I was. My knees had already been crushed against the stage front and I didn’t wish to replicate that particular pain. I turned toward my right and stared right into John’s face, who was screaming, “A Quick One!” “A Quick One!” Knowing that that song comes at the end of the show, I said to him, “They’ll play it, they’ll play it,” but I couldn’t get it out that if he requested it too soon and they played it, the show could abruptly end. It’s like yelling out “Minority” too early or “Good Riddance.” These songs signal the near end or end of a Green Day show, just as “A Quick One” symbolizes the end of an FBHT show. Sssshh! They’ll get to it. There were still a dozen more “Stop[s], Drop[s] and Roll[s]” and “It’s Fuck Time[s]” to go!

Probably the oddest of many odd moments from the night happened when a fan surfed onstage and called his wife. Apparently they had had a fight and the guy wanted Billie Joe to persuade her to come back to him. Unfortunately, they got her voicemail. Billie Joe said that it wouldn’t work out because he couldn’t talk to her, but that he had a beer for him (which appeared like a miracle out of nowhere), and a song called “Stop, Drop and Roll… and get the fuck off of my stage.” Poor guy. Well, at least they both tried.

Call My Estranged Wife… Please – FinksEntourage

Peanut Gallery. Photo by Rachel K.

Bob Gruen posted a surprising photograph of Billie Joe, who apparently re-chipped his front tooth sometime during the show (click to see at his site). Everyone who saw the photograph and had attended the show from the Green Day Community were shocked. When the hell did THAT happen? I remember the show being pretty wild, but I don’t remember blood dripping down Billie Joe’s face that one person mentioned on this topic. Sometime during the night, Christina Sajous from American Idiot was onstage and got kicked in the face by a roaming crowdsurfer. This I remember clearly as it seemed like it was a hard kick and looked like it hurt. The Rev pulled her back from the stage front and she watched the rest of the show from above the stage. Both of these incidents add a bit of special meaning to the screamed “I’m Alive” portion of the FBHT song, “Highway One.”

“I’M ALIVE!!!!” – Highway One – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bowery Electric, 4/25/10 (Smshnpmpkn)

After “The Pedestrian,” the Hot Tubs did “Broadway” interspersed with a cover of the Mystic Knights of the Cobra’s “El Camino.” Gallagher and Stockman were onstage for most of the song, clearly smashed (like the great majority of everyone else in the room) and having a great time. Baby Cobra eventually made it onto the stage and helped with the “El Camino” chorus.

John, Theo, Baby Cobra, et al – “Broadway” / “El Camino” – Foxboro Hot Tubs / Mystic Knights of the Cobra – Bowery Electric, 4/25/10 (Smshnpmpkn)

The night began to wind down and it was time for the most mellow song of the night, Stop, Drop and Roll‘s “Dark Side of Night.” The Rev dedicated the song to Michael Mayer and gave a bit of a shout-out to New York City.

“New York City, Motherfucker!” – Dark Side of the Night – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bowery Electric 4/25/10 (Smshnpmpkn)

Yeah I'm Rocking.

Sometime after the jazzy part of the night happened, came the final songs of the show, “St. Jimmy” and the moment that John Gallagher, Jr. had been waiting for… “A Quick One.” By this time it seemed everyone was holding each other up on the dance floor and the women in the front were begging people not to surf over them anymore. But still, there was an energy left in the room that sustained itself through the long and rambling “A Quick One.” John was so happy and it was fun to see him and everyone having the time of their lives. There is one YouTube video of “A Quick One,” but the sound goes in and out and it’s not that good, but that’s ok. Some things are better left to memory (or lack thereof). Just knowing that we were all there for a trip to the Dark Side is sometimes good enough.

At the end, The Rev said goodnight, dropped his mic on the ground and walked off. He and everyone else, were done.

And then it was over…

Josh and Rachael. Photo by Rachel K.

This party culminated a week of excitement that you can read about if you travel back through this blog. When I say that the week of April 19th-April 25th, 2010, spent over the opening of American Idiot on Broadway and the subsequent Party! Party! Party Tour and Foxboro Hot Tubs shows, was some of the best times of my life, it’s not hyperbole. It’s hard, cold fact. I’ve had great moments on the planet, but few can compare to this week of good performance, good music, good friends, good times.

As the Cobras would say, <143.

All Together Now. Don Hill's. Photo by Rachel K.

Theater Talk with Armstrong and Mayer

Michael Mayer and Billie Joe Armstrong recently were interviewed about American Idiot on a local television broadcast entitled, “Theater Talk.” The interview is pretty good and the official download of it may be found at the following link: Theater Talk: Billie Joe Amstrong, composer-lyricist Michael Mayer, director, on “American Idiot,” based on the album by Green Day. This was taped on 4/16/10 and runs for a 1/2 hour. In case you can’t watch the Real Media link above, Bastard_of_1967 converted the files for Youtube. You can watch them below for however long they may stay on Youtube.

Part I

Parts II and III after the Break!

Continue reading

Next Stop: Broadway?

Tony Vincent and John Gallagher, Jr. in Green Day's American Idiot

John Gallagher, Jr. and Tony Vincent in Green Day's American Idiot at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

If you are a fan of a punk or pop band (or a punk/pop fan for that matter) as well as the theater, you rarely would think of your favorite band creating new wonders for what some believe is the old, worn out, medium of live theater.

I thought I’d never see the day when a rock band from the 21st century would endeavor to bring an album to the stage again. The night before I saw Green Day perform live on Good Morning America in May at Central Park, I saw a production of the The Who’s Tommy performed by the Gallery Players in Brooklyn, NY. The musical was fabulously performed, with an earnest, fresh cast, and though the show itself is a a bit dated, the love for the music never dies with Tommy. Who can’t rock out to “Pinball Wizard” or get emotional with “See Me, Feel Me” or be mesmerized with the eerie premise of “Fiddle About” or be astounded by the power of “Acid Queen”?

Yet, the rock musical coming directly from a band these days is a rare proposition. Traditional Broadway crowds don’t like the loud, bold sounds of rock on their stages, but Broadway needs fresh musicals, the backbone of the Broadway economy, to survive. Current Broadway musicals like On the Heights (a great show originally performed downtown that moved to B’way), Rock of Ages (a show that you have to pay me to go see), Mama Mia (really? really?) and Billy Elliot (I’m glad all three kids who play the title character won Tonys, but I’m not paying $100 to see it) are thriving somewhat at the moment, but all in all, Broadway needs a few good, loud, raucous and audacious, pure rock musicals for a shot in the veins. Certain musicals, created by less-Broadway traditional musicians or theater folks, such as Rent and Spring Awakening, bring excitement and freshness to the stage and lure in new audiences that replace the older, staler B’way theatrical models. Mind you, I have never seen either Rent or Spring Awakening in full, mostly because I have issues with over-hyped productions of any sort, but I follow Broadway closely enough to know the storylines, the music, and the impact that both shows had on bringing new audiences into the theater and shaking up the status quo.

Well, there’s at least two rock-based shows on off-Broadway currently making their way to the big stage over the next nine months that will impact Broadway in a positive way: Green Day’s American Idiot and Lizzie Borden The Show, though Lizzie Borden does not originate from a band’s album. So let’s get back to the original premise: it’s good to know that in the near future, an actual band will bring some fresh spunk to the Broadway stage, and that band is Green Day and that show is American Idiot, which officially opened at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre on September 17th.

While it’s not a done deal that Green Day’s American Idiot (or Lizzie Borden for that matter), will actually make it to the Great White Way, it’s a forgone conclusion at this point that more than likely it will. It’s got everything going for it: powerhouse Broadway veterans such as Michael Mayer (Director) and Tom Hulce (Producer), and a cast that is incredibly talented, including Spring Awakening lead John Gallagher, Jr., the irresistible Tony Vincent, and Rebecca Naomi Jones, of the Passing Strange cast, and this isn’t even taking into consideration the band, Green Day, or their seminal 2004 album, American Idiot. All of this equals one thing potentially: next stop, Broadway.

Green Day’s American Idiot, in previews for the last two weeks, opened to generally good local reviews today, including reviews in newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Fransisco Examiner, and the San Jose Mercury News, and blogs such as SFist, The Dope Report, and a review/report on the opening night from Rolling Stone. All of the reviews were generally positive, with some constructive criticism thrown in, but for the most part, positive. Of course, not everything is honky dory, as in this hyper-negative review from Jim Harrington at the A+E Blog from the Mercury News. It’s so hyper-negative, though, it kind of sounds as if the guy thought that the band was playing, and not a cast of 19 and a six-piece backup band. Harrington, who is a fan of Green Day, has nothing positive to say, and I find it difficult to believe that he found nothing redeeming in the show after reading the other reviews. Maybe he was just having a “Red Tide” moment, as it were.

On the whole, reading reviews from Green Day fans at the Green Day Community as well as the majority of reviews above, I’d say that with a few tweaks in the storyline (it’s consistently noted as weak), American Idiot could land in New York and London’s West End.

Just in case it doesn’t happen, however, Billie Joe has the right attitude toward it all, as reported in the New York Times:

For his part Mr. Armstrong, whose early Green Day performances were at 924 Gilman Street, a well-known local performance space, said he’d love to see the show make it to Broadway. But he’s not worried if that doesn’t happen.

“I think that would be cool,” he said of a New York run. “But if it ends up playing Gilman Street, that’s cool too.”

*Review links from the Green Day Community’s American Idiot Musical Thread