We hella ♥ American Idiot.

We're baackkkkk!

The lazy(ish) days of summer are a thing of the past, and school is back in session. Which means that Hillary and I are once again living only two hours from the Big Apple. Which means....well, you can probably figure it out. Expect a multitude of posts over the coming months as we resume our frequent excursions to the city and catch up on the shows we didn't have a chance to see over the summer!

First, though, we had to pay a visit to some old familiar faces. It was only appropriate that our first trip of the semester included two shows that we had fallen in love with over the course of last year. After spending the afternoon with the new cast of
Next to Normal, we returned to the St. James to see American Idiot from excellent lottery seats in the second row.

We've said it before, and there's no other way to say it -
American Idiot screams its message loud and proud. In a way, sitting so close to the front for the majority of times we've seen the show has spoiled us. Seriously - after having Chase Peacock, Sidney Harcourt, and Miguel Cervantes singing fiercely and punching the air three feet away from you during the title song, well, no other seat in the house can really compare.

Due to the intense physicality of the show, understudies play a key role in the show. We were fortunate to catch Andrew Call as the Favorite Son, as well as Omar Lopez-Cepero in Wallace Smith's usual track, Sidney Harcourt in Declan Bennett's usual track, and Gerard Canonico doing double-duty in Theo Stockman's usual track as well as his own.

I'd already seen
Gerard!Theo once before, and he is truly brilliant. In July, he went on opposite Aspen Vincent in Alysha Umphress's track, which was funny because they both have such small statures. This time, though, we really enjoyed the contrast between Mr. Canonico and Ms. Umphress. Exhibit A: she literally picked him up and threw him off the couch during "Too Much Too Soon." Win. Where Mr. Stockman owns the track in his own right with his intense stares and....well, "Theo-ness," Mr. Canonico takes on the role of a kid riddled with ADD who wants nothing more than to intrude on every conversation and focus it on himself. The humorous side he brings to the track, along with the It Factor that draws your eye to him onstage, solidifies Mr. Canonico as one of our favorite ensemble members.

After one of our
previous reviews of American Idiot mentioned our thoughts on the Favorite Son being played by actors of different races, we were excited to see Andrew Call in the role! It's always great to see ensemble members get their chance to step into the spotlight, and although Hillary still hasn't seen Wallace Smith, Joshua Henry's replacement (fresh from the recent and very-much-missed production of Hair), let's face it - that just gives us another reason to go back. Mr. Call's voice was smooth and slick, and he managed to create a depiction of the "clean-cut All-American" that was unique from those of his predecessors. Instead of drawing a strong connection to President Obama as America's most recent "favorite son," Mr. Call instead emoted the vibe of Mr. Corporate America, which was just as effective and perhaps more generalizable.

And now for something completely different. (No, not Monty Python, although we love that too.) What follows is a tribute to the ladies of American Idiot - the girls who rock out eight times a week, who redefine the somewhat cheesy phrase "girl power," and who truly add a new dimension to a cast in which the girls are outnumbered by the guys by nearly 2:1.

Rebecca Naomi Jones. Please watch Passing Strange, graciously captured on film thanks to PBS Great Performances, and you'll get an idea of what Ms. Jones is capable of. As the leading lady of the show, she exudes strength and purpose while remaining identifiable and appealing to the audience. We have an unbelievable amount of respect for the intensity and consistency she brings to the character of Whatsername.

Christina Sajous. She begins the show suspended upside down, forty feet above the stage. Oh yeah - while head-banging. Enough said.

Mary Faber. Another strong female figure in the show. She brings such a heart to the character of Heather, while staying edgy and refusing to compromise what she wants.

Alysha Umphress. Fierce and made of win for previously mentioned reasons.

Libby Winters. Two words - stage presence. Like Mr. Canonico, she has the It Factor, and it's hard to watch anyone else while Ms. Winters is doing her thing.

"21 Guns" and "Letterbomb." Two songs that proclaim aggressiveness, assertiveness, and general fierceness at the top of their soprano lungs. End of story. Tom Kitt's gorgeous orchestrations add a beautifully feminine side to Green Day's score.

Now that we've paid proper tribute to the girls, we'd also like to give a shout-out to Miguel Cervantes - first, in recognition of his parents, who must have been big fans of Don Quixote, and second, for the way he bursts off the stage with his animated portrayal of the Rock 'N' Roll Boyfriend.

We've successfully kept mention of leading man John Gallagher Jr. in this review to a minimum (that's a first!), but there's no way we could leave out the fun he was having during the encore of "Good Riddance." Not only did he put his stellar guitar skills on display during his solo, but he played the instrument behind his head.

Being two mere guitar amateurs, we can only hope to strum a few simple chords of "Ode to Joy," let alone follow in the footsteps of Mr. Gallagher's musicianship.

And on that note, we'll wrap up this epic saga of a review. We've gotta go learn the opening chords to "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."


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