Friday, June 24, 2016

Review of 9Works' AMERICAN IDIOT: The Gravitas of Green Day

June 25, 2016

Green Day is one of the most popular American punk bands that gained prominence in the 1990s. In 2010, a sung-thru stage musical with a musical score which included a line up of Green Day songs debuted on Broadway, with a book written by lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong collaborating with director Michael Mayer. Earlier this year, 9Works announced that they will be a local staging of this show and this news was truly exciting. Knowing how high-energy and electrifying Green Day music is, this is definitely a must-watch show.

Basti Artadi and Jason Fernandez

The venue was a huge stage set in an outdoor amphitheater in the heart of Bonifacio High Street in Taguig. There were big screens on both sides of the stage, just like there would be in any rock concert. Just looking at the set already gave you an inkling that this would be an extraordinary show. 

There were three young men who were close friends whose paths eventually diverge. Will got his girlfriend pregnant and reluctantly decided to stay in town to stay with her. Tunny got convinced by TV ads to join the US Army. Johnny gets seduced by the drug lifestyle, even developing a powerful alter-ego St. Jimmy to justify his abuse. When his girlfriend Whatsername decides to leave him, Johnny had to make his own life-changing decisions.

Yanah Laurel, with Fernandez and Artadi

The central character of Johnny was played by former Rivermaya vocalist Jason Fernandez. Will was played by Chicosci frontman Miggy Chavez. This is the stage debut of both of these rock stars. Their singing prowess was incontestable, and both also did well in the acting department. Fernandez's character went to hell and back and he impressively convinced us of this. Chavez tended to be a little tentative at first but loosened up eventually. Tunny is played by theater actor Nel Gomez, and his confident ease around the stage is unmistakable, both in acting and singing.

Johnny's mysterious guru persona St. Jimmy was played by none other than the iconic leader of the 90s band Wolfgang, the legendary Basti Artadi, who had been out of the entertainment scene for sometime. The right-sided facial paralysis he suffers now may occasionally draw unnecessary attention. However, Artadi's powerful vocal reach and his enigmatic charisma was still very much there to keep us riveted when he is on stage. 

Miggy Chavez

The ladies in the cast certainly had their spot numbers to shine. Yanah Laurel (as Whatsername) got to highlight her unexpectedly powerful rock pipes in the anthemic number "21 Guns". Ms. Saigon alumna Ela Lisondra certainly proved she was an "Extraordinary Girl" as she showed off her pole- and belly-dancing grace on top of singing that song. Alex Godinez was sweet and sentimental as Will's girl Heather, and her crystal-clear vocals in her various songs reflect her character well.

Of course, the big Top 40 hit songs, namely "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "Wake Me Up When September Ends" and "21 Guns" were easily the most popular numbers. The whole company sings a rousing rendition of "Good Riddance (Time of My Life)" as a triumphant encore.. The other songs also make strong impressions despite their relative unfamiliarity. The poignant "Give Me Novocaine" and the forceful "Know Your Enemy" in particular were my personal favorites.

Nel Gomez

Director Robbie Guevara succeeds to engage the audience with his effective use of the complex multi-level stage area (again with set design by Mio Infante), Videos (by GA Fallarme) projected the influential television images that affected the lives of the youth. Daniel Bartolome conducts the live orchestra, as Onyl Torres serves as musical director for vocals. One of the important aspects of this production was the frenetic yet sexy Choreography, and this was care of PJ Rebullida. Lights and sound quality was excellent despite being in an outdoor venue. The costumes (a mix of leather, t-shirts and khaki) and makeup (trademark black eyeliner) brought us all into their punk world. 

The modern culture with the deadly troika of "sex, drugs and rock n' roll" was not comfortable to watch onstage, with all the decadent nihilism it espouses among disillusioned and disoriented young people. However as performed by the live musicians and sung by the talented cast, the headbanging music of Green Day was undeniably invigorating and glorious. The lyrics developed a new depth of meaning when heard in the context of the story unfolding on stage. 9 Works have a strong contender for Musical Production of the Year!

The Company sings "Good Riddance"


Green Day's AMERICAN IDIOT will run from June 24 to July 10, 2016. There will be shows on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8 pm. Venue is at the new Globe Iconic Store, Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater, BGC, Taguig. For TICKETS call 586-7105 or Ticketworld at 891-9999!


  1. Choreography is really an important factor in such events. Also the lighting! of course the sound quality has to be top notch! I think i will also be uncomfortable with watching the modern culture as described by you onstage... but looks like a great concert all in all

  2. i love greenday and I missed this show. i also adore basti artadi its just sad to know he is battling with his illness now

    1. This is just the first show I wrote about. There are still quite a number of shows for you to catch!

  3. i used to listen to green day, a lot, when i was younger. this will definitely be an enjoyable stage performance despite the controversial topics of the modern culture like sex and drugs.

  4. Wow, I'd love to hear them sing 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' and 'Wake Me Up When September Ends' live... Very meaningful songs!

  5. I think many would be tempted to sing along while watching this one. A friend of mine is a huge Wolfgang fan. I wonder if she'll catch a show. I should tell her about this.

  6. If I were in Manila, I would have watched this with friends. I have some Green Day songs in my iTunes and I'm interested how their songs flow into one great story. :-)

  7. Waooo. I would have loved to attend this. I am pretty sure many people would love and enjoy them singing.

  8. I am not into this Green Day but I think, this show gives positive aspect of the cukture and sounds. Well, I think, I need some research on the music arena. But, yesterday afternoon, I watched Achy Breaky Heart...and smile while watching...

  9. I've been seeing the event area in BGC. I hope to catch the show too. It's nice that Basti Artadi can still perform even with the facial paralysis.

  10. That's an interesting story. Rock musical with a story is something I haven't heard of much.

  11. I was never a big fan of Green Day, other than hearing some of their popular songs on the radio, but this show looks like a lot of fun and interesting.

  12. What an interesting production showcasing Green Day's songs. There are a few that I really like and there are some that are not really my taste. But if you put it in a production such as this, I'm definitely going to enjoy it!

  13. I am also once a fan of Green Day! Not really that I am into the niche but I love their song particularly the boulevard of broken dreams. You see, I am only familiar with their song and not about the show. But nonetheless, Green Day has a best set of songs too. :)

  14. this is interesting! its nice to see it produced like this. i remember green day back in the days