For the Sam Houston State University Musical Theatre’s production of Green Day’s “American Idiot” there is not one word that can describe the performance that was seen.
Going into the show with little to no prior knowledge of Green Day, the excitement I was feeling was building and building until the show finally began; and when it started, it did not disappoint.
The bold, ostentatious music coupled with relatively tight choreography and amazing vocal performances from everyone in the cast was joyous.
The talent showcased in the show was overwhelming. From everyone who worked to build the set, to those who were dealing with the tech, and of course the actors and those playing in the band.
Now while the performances given were done spectacularly well, there were parts of this performance that felt as though they held the performers back.
The biggest issue that I noticed during the play was tech issues during the play. One of the lead’s microphone was cut out during a song he led and the trouble of trying to get the microphone to work was distracting for the audience at points because of the feedback it generated.
While this was happening though, the actors did not relent. They still performed with such immense fervor and did not let a simple technological mishap impair their performance.
One thing that I found a bit distracting was the lack of vocal distinction between the three male leads.
At times it was hard to tell which one of the three were singing without having to look at who it was. The three men all being in a tenor range make the songs that they were together on feel flat at times as well. Multiple times I found myself wanting more from when these three were main features on songs together.
Another part of the performance that made it feel quite flat was the similarity of all of the songs featured.
It’s difficult to tell which song is which in hindsight, because they all have such similar productions. The songs that may have started more stripped would build to this grandiose climax that brought it to such a similarly mundane level to the songs surrounding it.
It would fall into the same “punk rock mediocrity.”
The songs building into that “climactic energy” was done through repetitions found in many songs that fell incredibly flat. I found myself waiting for a key change, or a differing note someone in the cast would sing that would bring intrigue and command attention, but it never came.
This problem is understandable, given that all of the music is by one artist, and I doubt that the Musical Theatre department had any ability to change or fix the shortcomings that presented itself from the musical being that of Green Day.
One thing that I do consistently wish was able to have been changed was the volume of the band featured on stage.
Many times the band almost completely overshadowed the vocal performers, especially since all of these songs are so production heavy, it almost makes it feel like there is no room for the performers.
While the shortcomings presented made the SHSU Musical Theatre’s predictions of Green Day’s “American Idiot” not up to par with my personal expectations in hindsight, the amazing performances of those in the cast made the experience of watching the show in the moment worthwhile.