“Green Day’s American Idiot” at Arts West

The music rocks; the large cast is dynamic; the story is a parable for our time. Arts West playhouse offers the Northwest premiere of the award-winning electric-rock opera “Green Day’s American Idiot.” It’s a loud, chaotic, energizing exploration of coming of age in the post 9/11 world, a time that has, in many ways, reordered life in America.

And Arts West has chosen an unorthodox method to present this work. There are seats on two sides of the stage for those who wish to view this presentation in a traditional fashion. Anyone who has mobility problems or would find it difficult to sit on the floor, get up quickly, or negotiate stairs, would probably be happier requesting one of these seats.

For those more agile audience members who want to immerse themselves in the musical, there’s a whole different experience to be had. This adventurous group is divided into three subgroups that follow the action around the theatre: on the stage; from the rafters; next to the orchestra; in front of, behind, and among the actors.

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

It sounds like sheer chaos, and, yes, it has that quality to it. But, and this is a big “but,” that immersive theatre experience is powerful. Just imagine the sound, lighting, and action swirling through and around you. It makes you part of the theatrical event in a totally new and exciting way.

The story at the center of the production concerns three disenchanted suburban young men, stepping away from their restrictive lives. Seeking more, they find sex, love, drugs, war, and rock and roll. Not all ends well. Reality, as it so often does, disappoints. While the story is nice glue tying together the many strands of this play, it’s the music and action that really define the production and a generation.

Director Eric Ankrim has pulled together an all-star production team and a large, talented and energetic cast. Chris Ranney and R.J. Tancioco get credit for the power of the award-winning music. It speaks to today’s generation and reminds baby-boomers of their era as well.

Through Oct. 11 at Arts West, 4711 California Ave., SW, Seattle, (206 938-0338 or www.artswest.org).

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