Here’s some backstory:
I first heard about American Idiot back in April or May 2009 when Berkeley Rep announced their season. I was pumped. I knew I had to see it. With all of the talented names attached to the project, I was assured that this show could be a hit.
The 1st time:
I bought my tickets to see the show on September 8th, 2009 – one of the first previews. We sat in the third tier (overlooking the stage) in the right-box seats. During the whole show I just wanted to jump out of my seat. It was electrifying to see that much energy on the stage. I didn’t fully understood what I saw (story-wise) but I absolutely fell in love with it. I remember commenting to the missus that, “This show has Broadway written all over it.” I had a feeling that this show had a much bigger life than Berkeley Rep. The missus didn’t connect with the show as much as I did, but she still really enjoyed it.
The minute I got home, I bought tickets to what was then, the closing night – November 1, 2009. Unfortunately (and fortunately) they extended the run to the third week of November. Mainly, I wanted to see the journey of the piece from the beginning (previews) to closing night. The next day, I was talking the show up with my co-workers and I told her that I would go with her as well.
The 2nd time: (Kind of)
October 14th 2009. My co-worker and I left at 3:30pm to get to Berkeley to have a nice relaxing dinner and catch the 7:30pm curtain. It was suppose to be a relaxing afternoon but we ended up in a 4-hour traffic nightmare. Everything was going fine, until we missed the turn-off to continue on the freeway going North to Berkeley. Instead we got on the San Francisco Bay Bridge exit. Normally that would have been a $5.00 toll and 15 minute out-of-the-way experience — not this time! We literally sat in traffic for four hours because a Safeway big-rig flipped over and was blocking all of the lanes – plus there were groceries everywhere. This traffic jam was the single worst traffic jam I’ve ever been in. At around 6:30pm, I called Berkeley Rep and told them the situation and unfortunately they told us they couldn’t do anything for us. We were so upset. Still stuck in traffic at around 7:00pm, we almost wet ourselves. We literally ran across six lanes of traffic and peed in the bushes – talk about a frustrating and humbling experience. We finally got over the bridge, ate dinner in San Francisco and drove back home. The night was a total bust.
The next morning, I emailed the the box office and told them what had happened. Graciously (and because it was all over the news!) she offered us two stools next to the sound booth in the back for the following week. We took them.
The 2nd time: (For real)
October 22nd, 2009. My co-worker and I again left at around 4:00pm to get to Berkeley on time and hopefully, this time, take the right exit. We did! No problem. For dinner, I suggested this hip Vegan restaurant, Cafe Gratitude. I don’t get a chance to have Vegan food very often and I figured if we were in Berkeley we might as well eat like the locals. Cafe Gratitude turned into Cafe Nightmare, but only for my co-worker. The entree I got was fantastic – overpriced, but fantastic. You can read my co-worker’s experience on Yelp. It’s quite humorous.
On the way back, I realized I had lost the tickets that I picked up before dinner. So, I had to go back to the box office, explain what happened, and they re-issued the tickets. Frankly, I was thinking the show was cursed or something. Well, it turned out that it was. My co-worker spent most of the show in the bathroom. Apparently, Cafe Gratitude’s vegan raw burger sent her system into a Master Cleanse during the show. After all of that, she missed it. I saw the entire show though and again, loved it. The perspective from the back of the house was so different. I saw so many new things that I never saw the first time and the book had changed. It was much stronger this time and you knew exactly who the characters were from the very beginning.
November 1st, 2009. This was suppose to be closing night but Berkeley Rep has already extended the run twice well into the third week of November. This show we sat in the orchestra, house right. The missus came to this performance with me.
We both felt the story was stronger. The initial reviews talked heavily about the fact there was no plot, so Michael Meyer and Billy Joe focused on making changes that made the story clearer. There was more dialogue and introduction to the characters (especially at the beginning). It was a totally sold-out performance!
I came home inspired. This is the performance that inspired me to create The Broadway Critic. I had been thinking about it for awhile, but I had to write my thoughts down about American Idiot.
The 4th time:
The last time I saw American Idiot was on Thursday, November 12, 2009. I scored front-row tickets; I was so excited! This time I took another co-worker with me.
The journey that American Idiot took from first preview to closing night was quite exceptional. Everything, from the choreography to vocal arrangements to plot changes, was tightened and focused. It was exactly what American Idiot needed to do in their out-of-town tryout. The show was even different from when I had seen it on the 1st. There were new songs, costumes (basically John Gallagher Jr. stays in his underwear for a good ten minutes), and the story seemed even clearer. That might be because I had now seen the show 4 times, but overall, the performers seemed to find the journey and arc of the story better.
I knew it was going to transfer to Broadway. I knew it.
The Journey to Broadway:
When I found out it was coming to Broadway, I knew I had to be there to see it. I wanted to see the updates and changes they had made from Berkeley Rep to Broadway. Also, there were a few cast changes that I wanted to check out. I booked an entire trip around my Spring Break to come out to New York City to see it and a bunch of other shows. For medical reasons, I wasn’t able to visit New York City. Instead, I stayed home in bed for most of the week. American Idiot opened to generally mixed reviews.
Then in August there was the infamous scare that American Idiot was closing. The news moved like wildfire. Fortunately, the producers decided to keep American Idiot open. I’ve been saying a prayer that it would stay open till October – my next trip to NYC. (Read all about of the drama, here.)
It has stayed open. While, I won’t be able to see Billy Joe perform on Broadway (he performed St. Jimmy all last week), I’m still so excited to finally get a chance to see American Idiot on Broadway this weekend. It kind of feels like my baby.
It’s been almost a year since I saw the show last. Let’s hope that I love it just the same…