By Julianne Mosher
After more than a year of being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts finally opened its doors and did so with a bang on Saturday, June 10 with its showing of the two-time Tony Award-winning hit musical Green Day’s American Idiot.
The rock opera, comprised mostly of songs from Green Day’s critically acclaimed 2004 album of the same name as well as several songs from its follow-up release, 21st Century Breakdown, is set in present time and centers around three friends; Johnny, Will and Tunny. The three dream of leaving their stifling, suburban lifestyle and plan to leave and head to the big city.
In the nine-minute-long narrative, “Jesus of Suburbia,” the three are ready to board the bus, as Will’s girlfriend, Heather, tells him she is pregnant, so he stays. Johnny and Tunny head off, singing along to Green Day’s hit, “Holiday.”
The city is exciting, but eventually the duo realizes it’s not it’s all cracked up to be. Tunny quickly gives up on life in the fast lane, joins the military and is shipped off to war. Johnny turns to drugs and finds a part of himself that he grows to dislike, has a relationship and experiences lost love. Will, at home, drowns his sorrows in alcohol and marijuana. The audience sees Johnny’s addiction to heroin grow, with the help of St. Jimmy, his manifestation of a rebellious drug-dealing alter ego.
At SPAC’s Saturday viewing, Mike Visconti’s St. Jimmy was full of energy and angst. The whole cast, in their best 90s punk-styled costumes, had the best chemistry as they head-banged the night away.
Standout performances were by Andrew Murano (Johnny) for his passion and depth of a character who was just trying to find his place in the world. Robbie Torres’s voice and range in “Before the Lobotomy” moved the audience nearly to tears.
All of the cast members had individual talents that were spotted from the seats like Samantha Rosario’s range in “Extraordinary Girl” that could have been heard on Broadway.
For theater lovers who are fans of “Rent” or “Hair,” “American Idiot” is the lovechild of the two.
The show contains content that might not be suitable for everyone, including adult language, themes and situations depicting sexual activity and simulated drug use, but its message is clear — life might not always turn out the way we think it will, and sometimes going home is perfectly okay when a plan doesn’t pan out.
Don’t be an idiot — go see this groundbreaking musical.
The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown presents Green Day’s American Idiot on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through July 31. Tickets are $45 per person, $40 for seniors 55+ and members. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.