Green Day’s rock musical “American Idiot” recently opened in Los Angeles. The Tony-award winning Broadway hit takes audiences on a journey through the music of the album, dealing with the hopes and dreams of three rebel friends who set out to conquer the world only to be saddled with life’s very uncool realities.
Surprisingly, the LA audience wasn’t just filled with punky, spiky-haired, leather jacket wearing Green Day fans, it included a theatre full what looked like regular season ticket holders, some Gen Xer’s with their parents and performance scene hipsters. It seemed common ground was found between a typically wild rock concert and a traditionally reserved theatre experience – certainly enough to leave audiences hungry for an encore.
Here are some other great rock musicals to check out, most now with CD soundtracks and DVDs:
Hair: The “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” takes audiences back to the volatile days of the late ’60s when bohemian counter-culture, Vietnam War protests, the sexual revolution and civil rights movement took center stage. The story follows a group of non-conformist hippies in New York who live in the aptly named, “Age of Aquarius.” “Hair” marked the beginning of the genre of what is now known as “rock theatre.”
Hedwig and the Angry Inch: set in the 1970s era of glam rock, the tale of Hedwig is told through the eyes of a flamboyant, transgender who suffered a botched sex change operation in an effort to be with his U.S.solder lover and escape communist East Berlin, only to be left in a trailer park in Kansas. Seeking solace by forming a rock band, Hedwig finds herself in another doomed relationship as she follows the shadow of a rock star who gets all of the glory while Hedwig’s band is forced to play chain restaurants and dive bars. The production won several awards for best off-Broadway musical.
We Will Rock You: This musical, based on the music of Queen is set 300 years in the future on “Planet Mall” where making music is forbidden but lead character Galileo is a rebel who hears music in his head and follows his destiny against all adversity, including the Killer Queen. The performance is loaded with pop culture and music history references that keeps audiences engaged. While not critically well received, the show has run almost non-stop since its opening in 2002, making it one of London’s longest running theatre productions.
Rock of Ages: Set on the Sunset Strip in the late 1980s, a time of big-haired metal bands, when any guy with a guitar was a god and the girls, all bleached hair and stripper-styled, wanted to be with him. This rock ‘n’ roll, dream-chasing, love story won 5 Tony Awards and has recently been made into a film starring Tom Cruise, set for release in Summer.