After the success of Freaky Friday, Australia’s newest musical theatre company Theatrical is set to premiere their production of the Tony Award winning rock opera, American Idiot. With a soundtrack of Green Day’s entire American Idiot album, this is no “boulevard of broken dreams”, we chat to Executive Producer Andrew Gyopar about 90s nostalgia and how Theatrical is making musicals accessible to a wider audience.
American Idiot features the entire Green Day Album of the same name, will audiences still enjoy the show even if they are not familiar with Green Day?
Yeah, absolutely. The show isn’t a Green Day concert, it’s not a show about Green Day or their album. The show is about three characters, young men living in a small town in a post 9/11 America. They’re looking for the excitement of a big city life through the backdrop of the politics and the changes happening in America during the war after 9/11.
It’s a rock opera, mostly sung through and is incredibly high energy. It’s for a much wider audience than just die hard Green Day fans.
How does American Idiot go beyond the increasingly popular “jukebox musical” genre?
In my mind the jukebox musical is where the music is pulled from a number of places in order to complement the story or take the audience in a particular narrative direction. American Idiot is a rock opera in that the music tells the story through the songs.
Why do you think there is such a nostalgia for the 90s and 2000s music? Recent hit musicals include Jagged Little Pill, Cruel Intentions and & Juliet which all feature music from this time period.
We had really good music at the time. I know I personally connect to music from the 90s and 2000s more than music prior or since. I think part of it is nostalgia, but it’s also reimagining the medium in which these stories are told. Back then we would have listened to music on the radio or a discman, with American Idiot as a musical, we’re introducing the music to a new audience and in a different way. It’s another way to experience music.
Theatrical is somewhat of an anomaly in the musical theatre world, there are usually only two options for performers and artists in musical theatre: Community theatre or big budget professional musicals – where does Theatrical sit in this mix?
We create musical theatre for two reasons:
- For the audience to have a fun night of high-quality musical theatre content.
- To connect people, not just to audiences, but to each other, the participants.
Some people come to Theatrical as a stepping stone to bigger musical theatre productions and companies, and others come to scratch a creative itch. For some of our people it’s a side hustle, others a hobby or creative outlet. We want people to be able to come together in a fun creative setting that audiences can then buy a ticket to and enjoy.
We’re incredible proud of our community of inclusive people where everyone is welcome. We work with many diverse people, culturally, neuro-diverse people and those with different personal objectives. When I ask people why they want to be a part of the company, a lot of people say “because it seems like a lot of fun where I can be with likeminded creative people.” I think that’s a really important driver.
You have a mission to engage with underrepresented communities and bring musical theatre to audiences who may not otherwise have access, what brought this about?
Not everyone can justify $200 – $300 on a big budget musical theatre ticket. Those productions are expensive to make but it’s not the only way to make musical theatre.
Because we are not-for-profit and rely on volunteers, we have the opportunity to produce productions at a lower cost and can pass those savings on to our audiences. If it’s less expensive to buy tickets to a show, we can introduce a wider audience to musical theatre.
What is your favourite number in the show?
Who’s my favourite kid! Hard question to answer, “Whatsername” towards the end of the show. It’s a Green Day song I love anyway – the way our director Scott Bradley and Musical Director, Tahra Cannon have crafted the scene with choreographer Grace Collins enhances what the show is about and it’s a beautiful part of the story.
American Idiot plays from the 9 – 26 March 2023 at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran, for more information or to book tickets: theatrical.com.au