Amelia Lily – Whatsername
Newton Faulkner – Johnny
Cellen Chugg Jones – Tunny
Steve Rushton – Will
Venue – Sunderland Empire
Date – Tuesday 24th May 2016
A totally different and haunting show experience from start to finish. Managing to mix a theatre musical experience of that with a rock show, leaving your ears buzzing and head spinning when it comes to the dramatic end. So many incredible moments with the songs placed so well into the show giving such an emotional and heartbreaking journey.
Not for the faint hearted as we watch the downfall of three men (who are struggling to come to terms with the terrorist attacks of 9/11 trying to live in America and figure out what to do with their lives. Johnny turns to drugs and these scenes become very difficult to watch, especially when he creates a rather crazy alter ego Jimmy! Tunny sees red, white and blue joining the army and having an awful experience. Will had to stay home and attempt to work it out with his girlfriend as they have a baby together.
It takes some pretty horrible turns in all honesty the drug using scenes are very difficult to watch and you can feel Johnny’s pain as his life has spiralled out of control. It really did look at times we were going to have plenty of tragic moments in the show. It toys with the audience to really start thinking the worst is going to happen well constantly and for all of the characters.
The stage design works very well to be able to quickly change as we follow the lives of the three men. With a sofa higher up used to separate the now different worlds of the friends, it really does help with the songs.
The show is very loud, what else would you expect from a rock show? We are also given some superb acoustic moments as well, “Wake Me Up When September Ends” was perfectly placed and absolutely haunting bringing everything together. You don’t have to be a huge Green Day fan to appreciate the music and lyrics placed in this unique show. All other classic Green Day songs are used, which I reckon everyone will know even if they think they don’t actually know any of the bands songs.
It is quite incredible how they have been placed in the show really highlighting how good the writing was in the music and lyrics for them to fit so perfectly into this story. That was the big thing about the American Idiot album though it was written after the fall out from 9/11 and the energy and feeling into those is shown very well in this show from start to finish. I am very tempted to buy more tickets and go and see the show again at the weekend. It really is that powerful!
Newton Faulkner was a very good choice for the role of Johnny and really gives his all in the songs and not forgetting his very impressive acting performance. It cannot be easy to take on the role of a drug addict and get it all so spot on! Amelia Lily takes quite a while to appear but as Whatsername really shows that she has such an incredibly powerful voice, she gets her chance to shine.
The whole cast also worked very well together and looked like they thoroughly enjoy the experience of the music, I was pleasantly surprised with the dance routines for different moments as what can you massively do with rock music which is quite heavy at times? But that is certainly answered when you see the show. The mix of electric and acoustic guitars really did give it something else, keeping the tone high at times while then bringing it back down to a softer tone when needed for the story.
Very impressed with this unique show, rock can be musical all at the same time with a heart wrenching story. This is the perfect example of how musical theatre really can be for just everyone.