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'American Idiot' bringing back Billie Joe Armstrong to revive sagging sales

November 30, 2010 |  1:11 pm

Armstrong Broadway's fall doldrums have been hard on "American Idiot," the jukebox musical featuring the songs of the punk band Green Day. Weekly attendance for the show at New York's St. James Theatre has been hovering around the 50% capacity mark in recent weeks, usually an indication of imminent closure.

The one exception was a week in late September and early October when Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong stepped in, prompting a healthy surge in ticket sales for that period. Producers have clearly learned from the experience because on Tuesday, they announced they were bringing Armstrong back for a limited run starting in January.

Armstrong will play the role of St. Jimmy for 50 non-contiguous performances starting Jan. 1, organizers said. The singer is scheduled to appear in the musical Jan. 1-9, Jan. 18-30 and Feb. 10-27. He will be replacing original Broadway cast member Tony Vincent, who will complete his run as St. Jimmy on Dec. 30.

"American Idiot" has not been the runaway Broadway success that many industry watchers had predicted. The musical failed to garner any major Tony Awards (it won for scenic and lighting design), but it did receive a positive review from Charles Isherwood of the New York Times, who called it "as invigorating and ultimately as moving as anything I’ve seen on Broadway this season. Or maybe for a few seasons past."

The creative team behind "American Idiot" -- including director Michael Mayer -- includes many of the same people who put together "Spring Awakening," the 2006 rock-infused musical that was a critical and popular success (not to mention an awards magnet).

"American Idiot" opened at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2009 before transferring to Broadway in April. The cast includes John Gallagher Jr., Stark Sands and Vincent.

For Green Day watchers out there, Armstrong was spotted earlier this week at L.A.'s Ahmanson Theatre where he caught the opening of the musical "Next to Normal," starring Alice Ripley.

-- David Ng

Photo: Billie Joe Armstrong. Credit: Henny Ray Abrams / Associated Press

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