American Idiot at the Ahmanson

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Before the start of “American Idiot,” Tom Hanks – who will be producing a film adaptation of the show – said he and his wife Rita Wilson were looking forward to the Opening Night performance at the Ahmanson Theatre.

He said the show, based on an album by the punk band, “Green Day,” could be a glimpse into the future of musicals. “June will still rhyme with moon and boy will still get girl,” Hanks said, commenting the usual formula, “but this is  something new.”

The Mar. 14 Opening Night performance attracted a number of celebrities, also including Bob Saget of “Full House,” Marcia Gay Harden of “Pollock” and her daugher Eulala Scheel of “Whip It,” John Gallagher, Jr., a Tony-winner for “Spring Awakening;” Andrea Bowen of “Desperate Housewives,” Charlayne Woodard of “Unbreakable,” Corey Reynolds of “The Closer,” Katie Lowes of the upcoming, “Scandal;” Ken Ehrlich, Sandra Tsing Loh, Mary Faber and Libby Winters.

Producer Tom Hulce, who starred in the 1984 film “Amadeus,” was also on hand to join the cast and friends of the theater at a post-performance party at the Bonaventure Hotel.

The exuberant musical pulsates with energy (not to mention, ever-flashing strobe lights,) as the story tracks the lives of three friends. One journeys into a world of drugs; another joins the military; and the third stays behind with his pregnant girlfriend.

The lines don’t always rhyme and the romances don’t all end with happily-ever-afters, but by the end, “Everyone has grappled with their demons,” said Scott J. Campbell, who plays the soldier.  “There’s rage and there’s love and it’s real.” 

“The play is telling the truth, “ said Leslie McDonel, in the role of the pregnant Heather. “There’s the good and the bad. (The characters) are learning and that’s the way to grow.”

Gabrielle McClintock, a.k.a. Whatshername, said “It takes you to the depths of emotion every night, and that takes its toll on you physically. It’s an assault on the body, but a labor of love.”

In a touching finale, the curtain rises on the cast members playing guitars and singing “The Time of Your Life.”  Van Hughes, who plays Johnny, said the uplifting scene was added after the original Berkeley production.

Having seen the play four times, party-goer Curtis Shepard said, “When the curtain goes up and the guitars come out, I always burst into tears,” later adding, “I’m not usually a crier.”

Click here to read the Los Angeles Times review of “American Idiot” in the online Culture Monster section.


Top photo: Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks just before Opening Night of American Idiot at the Ahmanson Theatre – Hanks will be producing a film version of American Idiot; separately, Wilson has recorded an album of romantic tunes, scheduled for release in May

Center photo: The cast of American Idiot at the Ahmanson, from left, Leslie McDonel, Jake Epstein, Gabrielle McClinton, Van Hughes, Nicci Claspell, Scott J. Campbell and Joshua Kobak, who enjoyed a cast party with friends of the Ahmanson at the nearby Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles (photo: Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)

Bottom photo: Cast member Jake Epstein, left, with the play’s producer Tom Hulce, who also produced the play, “Spring Awakening” and starred in the 1984 film, “Amadeus.”  (photo: Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)



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American Idiot at the Ahmanson

Published Mar. 15, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA