Cordwainer Productions’ American Idiot: The Musical

Cast of American Idiot: The Musical

Punk Rock Musical doesn’t quite sound right. Punk Rock and Musical doesn’t sound like peanut butter and jelly. They don’t seem like two things that would go together well, but Cordwainer Productions did a marvelous job of merging the two.

[Pictured] Part of the set where Arthur Newspaper was used!
American Idiot: The Musical is based off the Green Day album of the same name. The musical is co-directed by Dane Shumak and Jaime Schaffel. The show is constantly engaging and entertaining. There is endless action, which makes it all the more exciting. However, at times, it can become busy in a way that one is left unsure where to direct their attention. The show runs till Thursday, showtimes as follows: Wednesday December 9, 2015 – 8:00 PM and Thursday December 10, 2015 – 8:00 PM. For general admission tickets are $20, and student tickets are $15 plus fees. You can purchase them at the Market Hall Box Office or at

The story is an adaption of the album’s story. Three young guys, Will (played by Andrew Little), Johnny (Ryan Hancock), and Tunny (Taylor Beatty), are to leave their town for the big city in early twenty-first century United States.

Quickly, the realities of adulthood start to stymie their plans. Just before leaving, Will’s girlfriend, Heather (Bronte Germain), tells him she’s pregnant. Will decides to stay behind to face the responsibility of fatherhood and to start a life with his girlfriend. The story of Will’s path is tragic. His relationship with Heather goes south and she moves out with the child. Although one feels for Will throughout the show, his pain is best felt when Bronte Germain performs “Nobody Likes You”.

Johnny and Tunny make it to the city, but their paths diverge once they arrive. Tunny is downtrodden by life in the city and decides to enlist in the military. He is injured in combat and loses a leg. Tunny’s story straddles a couple of themes. On one hand, it is appears to be political commentary on the pearls and unnecessary loss of American lives in the Middle East. On the other hand, there is redemption as he meets and falls in love with a girl (Caleigh Chirico), who takes care of him.

Tunny is admirable. He does not spend his life the way the other two do, wasting it in pity and self-destruction. Instead, Tunny joins the army and at the end, seems to find happiness. Although it can be argued that enlisting is in itself a form of self-destruction, at least it seems he was trying to better his situation.

Johnny is the anti-hero that best embodies the album’s storyline. In the city, he looks to make something of himself, but drugs lead him down another path. He meets What’s-her-name (Caitlin Currie) and at first, their relationship seems healthy. It isn’t until Johnny encounters St. Jimmy (Kevin Lemeuix) that Johnny’s life starts to unravel.

Kevin Lemieux and Ryan Hancock pair up to make a terrifying duo. Lemieux creeps around the stage, interfering in Johnny’s life, pushing hard drugs on him. He embodies his character St. Jimmy perfectly. He is the kid outside the class window daring you come out and play, only with an added wicked grin and a playful tone.

St. Jimmy introduces heroin into Johnny’s life, then keeps him down by appearing whenever it seems Johnny may be coming around.

It is hard not to sympathize with Johnny throughout the musical. He has grand ambitions and is well-intentioned. Yet, he cannot overcome his desire for pleasure, and it dooms him to a life of being doped up and losing his love, What’s-her-name.

Ryan Hancock as Johnny

Ryan Hancock and Caitlin Currie have a beautiful scene when Johnny injects What’s-her-name with heroin. They move quite artfully, playing with a tourniquet to the song “Give Me Novocaine”. It is chilling and uncomfortable as they masterfully embody the feeling of the music.

A band made up Lucas Duncan, Kyle Nurse, and Brayden McGregor, directed by Sam Quinn, do a solid job of backing up the show. A couple of times, they are even brought into the show in hilarious ways. The large dance sets are stunning.

The choreography excellently tows the line of symmetry and chaos, making it very enjoyable. The album American Idiot was released in early 2004. It was labeled a punk rock opera, telling the story of an anti-hero in post-9/11 America. The album also makes strong political statements in the songs “American Idiot” and “Holiday”. The concept of the album, which is telling a story through music, opened it up to the possibility of a musical. The first adaption of the album was in 2008 by Michael Mayer in Berkley, California.

All photos by Samantha Moss

Character development and the whole show for that matter happens primarily through the music. There is very little dialogue. However, the music and actors do an adequate job of moving the story along, and one can easily follow the story from beginning to end through the emotion that is portrayed. The punk rock opera sets a different tone that is captivating, exciting and heart-wrenching. The show encapsulates the feeling of the album a decade later, the most eminent of which is teenage angst and apathy. For most Trent undergrads, it may not bring back the nostalgia that it would for those a few years older, but it may bring back some fond memories of childhood ignorance.

The remaining cast is as follows:  Braedon Sziklas, Conner Clarkin, Meg O’Sullivan. Josh Butcher, Liam Parker, Elizabeth Moody, Maura Wingle-Land, Nicole Kelly, Quin Shearer, Stephanie Jackman, Sydney Hawthorne, and Tom Middleton. With choreography by Sarah Rorabeck, Elizabeth Moody, Will Armstrong, and Rachel Bemrose.