Preview: Green Day musical 'American Idiot' rocks Fort Myers May 16

Penn State grad Alison Morooney - in her first professional job - offers a peek behind the mosh-pit atmosphere, a tour bus full of twenty somethings and 'a lot of sex.'

Article Highlights

  • One night only, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16
  • Tickets are $39.45, $42, $52, $62
  • For tickets, call 481-4849 or go to bbmannpah.com
Alex Nee (Johnny) in AMERICAN IDIOT.

Photo by John Daughtry

Alex Nee (Johnny) in AMERICAN IDIOT.

Alyssa DiPalma (Whatsername) and Alex Nee (Johnny) in AMERICAN IDIOT.

Photo by Turner Rouse, Jr.

Alyssa DiPalma (Whatsername) and Alex Nee (Johnny) in AMERICAN IDIOT.

What: One-act, sung-through examination of suburban ennui set to the music of Green Day

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16

Where: Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 Edison Parkway, Fort Myers

Cost: $39.45, $42, $52, $62

Information: Call 481-4849 or go to bbmannpah.com

Something Else: Mature subject matter, drugs and sexuality; recommended for mature teen audiences and up.

On the Web: More theater news at The Stage Door blog

Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall

8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers, FL

Alison Morooney never thought she was a rocker. She wasn't even a huge Green Day fan before she auditioned for musical "American Idiot." More than 175 shows later, her tune has changed. Green Day's anthem to suburban ennui, finding yourself and thrashing out the meaning of life resonates now.

"I love it so much," the Penn State University grad relates by phone from Knoxville in a tone that does nothing so much as convey the pure joy she gets from performing.

Morooney auditioned when the show came through State College and held a casting call for seniors in the musical theatre program. By October, she was on stage in the United Kingdom, touring England, Ireland and Wales. She calls it "the dream job," all the while noting "this is my first real person job out of college!"

"American Idiot," along with "Spring Awakening," "Rent," a plethora of cash-grab jukebox musicals, and now "Once" signal a gentle, gradual shift of musical theater toward a more rock-friendly milieu. The show adapts 2004 "American Idiot" concept album into a tale of three friends - drifting through life, love, drugs, war, boredom and more.

"American Idiot" asks the question - "What are we looking for?" Then, Morooney says, the show suggests that maybe the characters find that "what they were looking for they had all along."

Sung-through, one-act, with a definite punk vibe - this is NOT your grandma's musical theater. There's no tap dancing. Morooney, who also serves as the production's dance captain, giggles at the mere mention of tap dancing.

"This not a dancer's show," Morooney says. "[Choreographer Steven Hoggett] designs movement based on what's going on emotionally. It is very athletic and human."

As we talk, the actress describes the style of dance in the show, sort of a cross between modern dance and a mosh pit.

"It is hard to put a style to it," Morooney admits. "As the principals are singing, the ensemble dances that journey."

Fear not, fans of traditional musical theatre, there is "an easy love story" for folks to follow, as well as a Benetton-ad-ready cast of gorgeous twenty somethings. Morooney reports an especially boisterous tour bus, what with the entire cast under 28 ("We're young and energetic," she giggles.")

But make no mistake - this is a rock concert - pure and simple.

Some of the cast in certain roles play their own instruments throughout the show. Morooney even had to learn four chords to play the encore (note: don't bolt for your car). And of course that staple of rock and roll is present throughout the show. Green Day WERE rockers, after all. And we don't mean groupies.

"There's a lot of sex," Morooney mentions in an offhand way.

The show attracts an enormous response. Morooney tells of a patron in Pittsburg who came to see "American Idiot" after fighting for his sobriety.

"I'm eight months sober," she remembers the gentleman saying, "And this was incredible to watch."

For the actress, "American Idiot" offers something for everybody, especially if you show up with an open mind and don't come expecting traditional musical theatre.

"This isn't the type of show where you come, watch and then go home," Morooney said. "This is the most amazing artistic artistic experience!"

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