Struggle with Rage and Love – A review of “American Idiot”

By Claire DeMarco, ‘Burgh Vivant

Three young men in suburbia Johnny (Jeff Way), Tunny (Jacob Krupitzer) and Will (Jordan Schreiber) are restless, bored and generally discontent with their lives. They feel trapped and want to escape, and move on to a more exciting place where they make their own rules and “find themselves.”

Will wanted to leave with his buddies but stays back in suburbia when his girlfriend Heather (Karli Sutton) discovers she is pregnant.

Johnny and Tunny head for the “big city” but after a time both find that city life isn’t exactly what they expected. Both men face the same restraints and traps they encountered in suburbia.

Heavy into drugs, Johnny stays in the city and finds Whatshername* (Chelsea Bartel).

*Note: Yep, that’s right. The poor girl doesn’t even have a name!

Johnny slowly entices his nameless girlfriend into his drug world. His alter-ego and figment of his imagination St. Jimmy (Allison Burns) is not a saint as she goads Johnny into more inappropriate behavior.

Tunny leaves the city, joins the military and is seriously injured in the war. While in the Middle East he falls in love with Extraordinary Girl** (Lydia Halkias).

**Note: And another nameless female!

Will, still in suburbia, lives his life vicariously through television, watching other people pursue active existences. He is bored and boring.

Johnny and Tunny eventually come back home to suburbia and reconnect with Will. Did they leave their rage behind? Did love prevail?

Jacob Krupitzer (as Tunny) plays the guitar while the cast of “American Idiot” looks on.

The seed for the musical opera “American Idiot” grew from the album of the same name produced in 2004 by the band, Green Day. Music was written by Billie Joe Armstrong. Book by Billie Joe Armstrong

Note: The time frame of the original musical reflected the early 2000s. This production is definitely indicative of 2019 as evidenced by the quick projected television images of the current President.

Way’s interpretation of Johnny as the angry, self-centered wise ass is spot on as is his rendition of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

Schreiber is believable as Will as his movements and facial expressions indicate his much slower-paced life and indifference.

Bartel’s rendition of “Letterbomb” is powerful.

Burns’ portrayal as the psychotic, evil St. Jimmy is riveting.

Krupitzer successfully conveys the deeper feelings of Tunny as he grows from a restless youth to a gentler soul.

Set design is eclectic, simplistic, but striking. Sections of plywood (with the occasional stream of green bubble wrap) surround the stage. The plywood slabs are used throughout the musical to catch images of current events or silent symbols associated with the characters on stage. Hats off to Set Designer, John E. Lane, Jr.

Choreography by Assistant Director/Choreographer Nora Nee and Assistant Choreographer Mikayla Gilmer and the entire cast made the energetic, frenetic movements on stage appear seamless.

The Live Band is the delicious icing on the cake.

This production directed by Justin Sines.

Please note that this show contains adult content and strong language that may not be suitable for all viewers.


“America Idiot” runs from July 11 – 28 at the Genesius Theater, Duquesne University, 1225 Seitz Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (adjacent to the Mary Pappert School of Music). For more information, click here.

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