Green Day musical is a record-breaker for Berkeley Rep
Sorry Princess Leia, Tony Kushner and you folks from the Tectonic Theater Project who compiled "The Laramie Project," but it looks like you just weren't punk enough.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced today that "American Idiot," its new musical based on the rock band Green Day's Grammy-winning 2004 album of the same name, has shattered all of the 41-year-old company's box office records. Of course, the trio of East Bay suburbanites had a home-court advantage, given its roots in the Berkeley punk scene of the early 1990s.
The stage version of "American Idiot," which weaves the songs from its namesake album and a smattering of tracks from another Green Day release, "21st Century Breakdown," into a narrative of youthful disaffection during wartime, now holds Berkeley Rep records for top gross, biggest advance sale and biggest single-day box office receipts.
Spokesman Terence Keane didn't have earnings or attendance figures available, but said the top three previous shows were Carrie Fisher's one-woman memoir play, "Wishful Drinking," Kushner's "Homebody/Kabul," a drama about an Englishwoman who disappears into Afghanistan, and Tectonic's documentary play about homophobia and the impact of Matthew Shepard's murder on the Wyoming community where it occurred.
"American Idiot," with the story credited to singer-lyricist Billie Joe Armstrong and the show's director, Michael Mayer, has now been extended through Nov. 15 -- its five weeks of extensions doubling the originally scheduled five-week run that began Sept. 4.
Instead of calling them jukebox musicals, maybe it's time to coin a new phrase -- jewel-case musical? musical on a platter? -- for entire albums that get turned into shows. Whatever you want to call 'em, Berkeley Rep has another one coming in April, when it will premiere "Girlfriend," a boy-meets-boy tale based on the 1991 album of the same name that delivered pop-rocker Matthew Sweet from obscurity to semi-obscurity.
-- Mike Boehm
Photos: "American Idiot" scene in rehearsal; Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong onstage this week in Portugal. Credits: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times; Jose Sena Goulao/EPA