Winnipeg Studio Theatre brings idiot nation to the Warehouse on Feb. 23
Diana Chabai, THEATRE CORRESPONDENT
You know the songs, you might even know the show, but you haven’t seen American Idiot like this before. Winnipeg Studio Theatre’s production of the Green Day rock musical is not only set in the future, but it swaps two (count ‘em, two) traditionally male characters into women, which in turn, creates a lesbian love storyline. How’s that for innovative theatre?
The Broadway production opened in 2010, six years after the history-making concept album came out. Now, seven years after its debut and 13 years after the music’s debut, the cast is finding it “interesting” that its content has currency in 2017.
“It magically and scarily relates to the world right now,” said Jacqueline Harding, who plays Extraordinary Girl. “It’s hard because you’re wanting to stay well-read, but also not knowing what to do to contribute. It’s exciting and refreshing that we can put it into art.”
“It’s such an incredible outlet. My brain has been doing flip-flops every day reading the media,” said Colleen Furlan, who plays Tunny, one of the gender-swapped roles. “If you’re frustrated, you’re scared, you need an outlet… you need this.”
American Idiot follows three best friends as they become disoriented with their one-horse town, as characters in punk songs often do. They each go off on different paths, each of them affected by a post-9/11 world. But WST’s production takes place even further in the future, post-2017, according to the actors. “With all the women’s marches, there is something that is building,” said Furlan.
Harding, 31, teaches vocal lessons as well as performing. “It’s vocally quite demanding.” Furlan, 24, is a classically-trained soprano, most known for her roles in Rainbow Stage’s The Little Mermaid and Les Miserables. Now she’s training herself to sing to pop songs.
“I sang to the radio every time I was in the car, in the shower, at home to get my voice in that place,” she said. “[The singing part] sits very low… Tunny’s a girl in this one. In the writing, it’s everywhere. It makes so much sense. It’s new age; it’s so important that storyline is there.”
The cast urges Green Day fans and non-fans alike to come see the show. Some of the now classic hits sound even better as a musical, said Furlan.
“It’s a full-out, non-stop, always-energized show.”
American Idiot runs at the Tom Hendry Warehouse from Feb. 23 to March 5. Student tickets are $25. For more information, visit winnipegstudiotheatre. com.