Musical version of album to bow at Berkeley
A legit tuner version of the 2004 Green Day album “American Idiot” will open the 2009-10 season at Berkeley Repertory Theater.
Michael Mayer, who picked up a 2007 Tony for his direction of “Spring Awakening,” will helm “American Idiot.” Mayer co-writes the book with Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, who conceived the punk-opera album and wrote most of the lyrics. The band — comprising Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool — is credited with music for the show.
Co-produced by Rob Cavallo and Green Day, the “American Idiot” disc sold more than 12 million copies worldwide and won Grammy Awards for rock album and record of the year. Upon its release, it was widely compared to classic rock opera/concept albums such as the Who’s “Tommy,” which was turned into a Broadway hit in 1993; and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” also in development as a stage musical for the Weinstein Co.
A nihilistic coming-of-age story drenched in post-9/11 paranoia, “American Idiot” follows disaffected contemporary American Everykid Jesus of Suburbia as he morphs into violent, drug-dealing alter-ego St. Jimmy and falls for anarchist girlfriend Whatsername.
Hits spawned by the album include the title song, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
Choreography is by Steven Hoggett, movement director on the National Theater of Scotland’s well-received 2007 production “Black Watch,” which has toured internationally and played two sellout stints Off Broadway.
Berkeley Rep preem for the musical represents a nod to the Bay Area roots of Green Day, which launched its career there in the late ’80s.
No Broadway plans have been announced for the show.
The San Fran-area regional already has announced the rest of its 2009-10 season, which also includes another new rock-inspired tuner, “Girlfriend,” based on the 1991 Matthew Sweet album. Berkeley Rep in 2006 staged the world premiere of “Passing Strange,” musician Stew’s rock odyssey that was further developed at New York’s Public Theater before moving to Broadway.
Green Day’s eighth studio album, “21st Century Breakdown,” drops May 15, with the band expected to kick off a world tour following the opening of “American Idiot.”