Green Day’s 'American Idiot' rock opera coming to DPAC

Apr. 24, 2014 @ 08:58 AM

Punk rock can have a place on Broadway. “American Idiot,” the rock opera by Green Day, has been a success on Broadway and on tour, and is coming to Durham next week. Based on the California band’s 2004 album of the same title, “American Idiot” is about the coming of age of three young men. It will be at the Durham Performing Arts Center April 29-30.

Jared Nepute plays Johnny, who takes the urban drugs and music path to adulthood from suburbia. There’s no act one and two – just one 95-minute performance without intermission. Nepute said he likes it that way. Songs in the show are those from the album, including “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Holiday” and “21 Guns.”
“The audience takes a seat and goes on this journey. It’s kind of a ride,” he said, without an intermission to break the momentum. “I love that format actually – as an actor, you’re thrown into it, it keeps the energy up and keeps the story going,” Nepute said. He spoke with The Herald-Sun from a tour stop in Alabama.
Green Day has been around more than 20 years, its sound diving into the mainstream with the success of “Dookie” in 1994 and even more so with “American Idiot.” When “Idiot” came out 10 years ago, Nepute was in middle school. He liked all of Green Day’s music then, along with bands like Sum 41 and Blink 182. He was exposed to the type of music, but at that age wasn’t taken in by the political message, he said.
Released during the George W. Bush presidency, the “American Idiot” album includes lyrics in the title track about propaganda, hysteria and age of paranoia.
“It’s kind of crazy 10 years later, studying the message [Green Day member] Billie Joe [Armstrong] so eloquently put in the album. It’s really incredible he created this whole thing in his head,” Nepute said.
He thinks the political message now is even more relevant. People are less blinded, he said, after finding out there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Along with the 99 percent rallies and Wall Street bailout, he said, “everyone’s realizing as a country we’re in trouble and people are wanting change.”
“This has fueled some political activism in me,” Nepute said.
A live band performs on stage during “American Idiot” just a few feet from the cast.
“It’s kind of tricky at first. You’re so amped with a live band behind you,” he said, but don’t want to sing too loud. “You try to reign in all that adrenaline.”
As an actor, Nepute said it’s a different experience to sing in a punk rock musical. After 140-some performances, it has become natural, he said. It’s fun, too. The cast is all in their 20s, and they get along well, Nepute said.
His character is in his early 20s, a few years younger than Nepute.
“I can relate to the youthfulness of the character. After college graduation, where to go? Your future is up in the air,” he said. Originally from St. Louis, Mo., Nepute graduated from New York University. Each new job has been a step up, and this is his first tour of a Broadway show.


WHAT: “American Idiot”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. April 29-30
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham