AMERICAN IDIOT (AHMANSON): 68% – BITTERSWEET

Scott J. Campbell, Van Hughes and Jake Epstein in “American Idiot” at the Ahmanson. Credit: Doug Smith.

SWEET
From the poetic “Are We the Waiting” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends” to the defiant “Know Your Enemy” to the anthem-like “21 Guns,” the expertly performed songs cast a spell that had young, old and middle-aged audience members head-banging together at the Ahmanson. Now that alone is one incredible feat even if this merging of Broadway and VH1 styles is only a pit-stop on the way to the musical’s 21st century future.
Charles McNulty – LA Times

SWEET
Armstrong and Mayer’s minimalist book, Green Day’s rafter-shattering music, and Armstrong’s ingenious lyrics coalesce into an enthralling whole. The musical is in shipshape form in this national touring edition.
Les Spindle – Backstage

SWEET
But there’s no denying the melodic craft or emotional intensity of Green Day’s songs, and this rambunctious cast captures the group’s performance energy brilliantly (Hughes’ resemblance to the kohl-eyed Armstrong is no mere coincidence, and he shares the front man’s raffish charm).
Paul Hodgins – OC Register

SWEET
At the Ahmanson until April 22, the Tony nominated musical may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its roar should be acknowledged and appreciated on its own terms.
Don Grigware – BroadwayWorld

SWEET
The touring “American Idiot” kicks ass in every sense.
Bob Verini – Variety

BITTER
It’s abundantly clear from seeing both shows, only four days apart, that Spring Awakening is mostly terrific and that American Idiot is mostly terrible.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Times

SWEET
Taken entirely from rock/punk band Green Day’s award-winning album American Idiot, the musical blends the rock concert and stage show brilliantly.
Kevin P. Taft – Frontiers

SWEET
It’s all a bit bewildering and sketchy, but the dynamic music, singing and dancing hold you, keep catching you up in its impassioned, dizzying spell.
Willard Manus – Total Theatre

SWEET
Overall, Green Day’s music is killer and makes up for the thin story.
Katie West – LA Examiner

BITTERSWEET
Despite a cast of solid singers and musicians, the L.A. version lacks the spontaneity of the original 2009 New York production, which often featured well-known rock stars and Broadway vets.
Laura Hertzfeldt – Entertainment Weekly

SWEET
The choreography by Steven Hoggett is inspired. Michael Mayer has done a brilliant job of directing. While rock is not my favorite form of music (I tend to be old school), I liked most of the music.
Robert Machray – Blog Critics

BITTERSWEET
So, can punk work on a Broadway stage? Of course it can. Green Day’s riveting music of angst, disillusion, and, yes, even hope already proves that. If only the rest of it would fall in line.
Obed Medina – EdgeLosAngeles

BITTERSWEET
That recalls the central dilemma. American Idiot is too caught up trying to be musical theater to be an engaging musical event. It’s also too much of a concert to be a fully realized musical.
Jeff Favre – LA Downtown News

BITTER
But book co-writer/director Michael Mayer fails to allow the audience to empathize with their disaffection. So the point is to demonstrate the barrier between them and the world, and their sense of isolation. Great. But don’t wrap by tidily resolving a drug addiction, a broken family and a war veteran’s physical loss.
Rebecca Haithcoat – LA Weekly

SWEET
While “American Idiot” has its roots in other rock shows like “Spring Awakening” and “Next to Normal,” it is a unique experience. It is not a typical musical, but more a rock concert with choreography. Indeed, the singing is one of the show’s strongest points, and the cast capably belts Tom Kitt’s luscious orchestrations in true contemporary pop/rock musical theater style. The choreography, by Steven Hoggett, is urgent, kinetic, and crisp.
Katie Buenneke – Neon Tommy

SWEET
What Mayer may lack as a scenarist, he makes up for here as a visionary director. With all due to respect to Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, the Four Season’s Greatest Hits and their ilk, American Idiot is the best theatricalization of an album yet. This galvanizing production should be seen by fans of Green Day, contemporary dance, and pure theatre artistry.
John Magaril – CurtainUp

SWEET
The show is powerful, in-your-face, touching, painful, and wonderful…with a cast that’s on fire. Raw in every sense of the word. You’ve got to experience it for yourself!
Ellen Dostal – Musicals in LA

BITTER
The thing that irritates me the most about how awful this production is, is that Center Theatre Group has the deep pockets and visibility necessary to bring actual groundbreaking theater to Los Angeles but instead of getting behind something truly artistic and important they bring us this schlock. For that, I say to Center Theatre Group: Shame on you.
Susan Burns – Hey Melpomene

SWEET
Overall, the play is impressive and proof at how talented Green Day is. The lyrics work extremely well as the basis of the storyline, and anyone — Green Day fan or not — will be easily pleased.
Brittany Woolsey – Daily 49er

BITTERSWEET
I do know that once our three heroes see the error of their ways, the sentimental outcome seems too easily achieved and proves ultimately that, for all its new-fangledness, American Idiot is, morally and theatrically, pretty old-fashioned. But, oh, those lights! They glitter and gleam so. And they kept this reviewer awake.
Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema

SWEET
From the moment the curtain opens on American Idiot, it grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. It’s a jaw dropping moment as the cast explode onto the dazzling set fueled with high octane and youthful exuberance singing, “don’t want to be an American idiot,” with an energy that is sustained throughout the entire production.
Peter Foldy – LASplash

BITTER
“American Idiot” asks its audience to work a little harder to figure out – among other things – who these three young men are (we get that they’re friends), what their lives have to do with our own, what their connection is to the bizarre-looking character St. Jimmy, why Whatsername is nameless and what makes the Extraordinary Girl so Extraordinary…beyond her ability to strap on a harness and levitate, that is.
Evan Henerson – LA Examiner

AMERICAN IDIOT
Ahmanson Theatre
Los Angeles Music Center
135 N. Grand Ave., LA.
8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2:00 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays; Ends April 22, 2012
Tickets: $20 – $120; (213) 972-4400
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

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LemonMeter About the Author: We don’t “review” shows here at the Lemon, rather we "review" reviews by gathering them from a variety of local review sites around the internet, judging them to be positive or negative, then forming an aggregate score that we call a LEMONMETER RATING, showing how well that show has been reviewed in total. For more detail on how the LemonMeter works visit here.

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