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American Idiot (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Green Day's American Idiot has a great deal going for it - including a fantastic cast who give energetic turns, the rousing music of of Billie Armstrong & Co and Steven Hoggett's confident choreography which differs to the norm and really pushes the performers.

But beneath all of this good stuff lies an earnest rock musical which is essentially 'putting another dime in the jukebox baby' and plundering two albums. The dialogue is minimal, as is the narrative - which means you are left with a cast who give it their all - somersaulting over the cliches but it's hard to cover them completely. The problem is that this is a period piece - an angry attack on President Bush and a country losing its' identity. With Barack Obama starting his second term, this feels like a Michael Moore documentary with music.

Drugs, pregnancy and sex feature but none of this is shocking as we've had Spring Awakening, Rent and to a certain extent Tommy doing all of this much better previously. Also, it fails to use subversion in the same way as Jerry Springer the Opera. There are moments though when the piece jumps to life and the all American cast certainly impress - Alex Nee complete with guy liner and superb vocals is brilliantly nonchalant as Johnny. Jenna Rubaii lives up to her character's name as the Extraordinary Girl with raspy vocals to match.

The ensemble brings passion and energy to the show and make you realise how great Green Day's material is. It is like listening to a greatest hits collection - with "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" being a real standout, amongst many others.

Sadly though, this is not the breakthrough musical that you want it to be, as the magic ingredient is missing. It is crying out for smaller venues, preferably in the round so that it could be a truly immersive experience.

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