Review: Green Day’s American Idiot, Streetlight Theatre Arts

ui-logo-american_idiotThey have done it again. Streetlight Theatre Arts have taken Derby by storm with their pulsating, passionate production of Green Day’s American Idiot.

They  are never a group to shy away from a challenge and with this rock opera they certainly took on the ultimate test of their talent. But they pulled it off brilliantly and have reaffirmed their award-winning status.

The cast of 29 and a seven-strong band took to the stage at Derby Theatre last night to loud cheers from an excited audience and bowed out to a well-deserved standing ovation.

In between were 95 minutes of invigorating and dynamic musical theatre of a standard to which many professional company’s would aspire.

Sadly this was the last performance by the two-year-old theatre group as the young team are moving on to take up new professional opportunities, but they certainly made sure they went out with a bang.

Director Matt Powell has stripped the show, which was a hit on Broadway in 2010, right back using projections on a simple white wall covered in propaganda, graffiti and vandalism and created an amazing aura of energy using clever choreography and non-stop movement.

He says he was inundated with requests from people wanting to be a part of the show once word got out it was being staged in the city as it resonated with many of the post 9/11 generation.

That eagerness to be involved in something a bit different from the more mainstream musical was evident in the performance of every person under the spotlights. They simply oozed exuberance.

American Idiot centres on a trio of antiheroes seeking meaning to life through drugs, sex and the military.

While Johnny, played by Kyle Lamley and Tunny (Mitch Gamble) flee their suffocating suburban life for the city, Will (Andrew Bould) stays at home and lapses into sofa-bound drunken despair with his pregnant girlfriend Heather (Katy Freeman).

However Tunny quickly gives up on the disappointing urban life and is seduced by first the military and then Extraordinary Girl (Alana Moran) who nurses him after he is injured in battle.

The main thrust of the narrative is taken up by cocksure Johnny who sinks into heroin addiction thanks to his druggy alter ego St Jimmy (Oliver Wheddon).

Having experienced love and loss with a girl he calls Whatsername (Aine O’Neill-Mason) he eventually heads back home.

There are many marvellous moments during this show but special mention should go to Kyle Lamley, who is also the frontman for local rock band Theia, for pulling off Boulevard of Broken Dreams perfectly and 16-year-old Oliver Wheddon who projected his amazing voice with seemingly little effort.

This pun will have already been used but I have to say that you must go and see this show as you will have the time of your life.

It is on at Derby Theatre tonight and tomorrow. Go to http://www.derbytheatre.co.uk for tickets.

The rest of the cast were Keenan Jones, Ben Jones, Jack Readyhoof, Andrew Smyth, Tom Stanley, Andrew Buxton, Jack Warbuton, Rob Chilton, Josh Birchall, Ollie Hand, Alex Dickenson, Becky Morley, Lucy Bramley, Eleanor Mallinson, Cat Bedworth, Jo Walker, Lowri Spear, Iona Jackman-Hart, Kat Adey, Laura Jacobs and Ethiopioni Bramley.

Musical direction was by Dave Adey and the rest of the band were Tom Powell, Tim Wright, Helen Shelton, Jeff Widdowson, Lizzie Spear and Angela Lane.

The rest of the creative team were Charlotte Richo, choreography, Ollie Turner, producer, Kevin Greene, lighting design, Simon Birchall, sound, Becky Morley, costumes, Milly Shawcross and also Katie Wendorf, Victoria Palmer, Arun Hayes, Neil Jones, Joe Lammond, Eliza Waters, Patryk Gers, Eliot Cholerton Hill, Richard Heappey, Ron Mander, Glen Readyhoof, Paul Wheddon, Chris Clarke, Natasha Rodgers, Tracy Powell and Nicky Wheddon.

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