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Northwestern Rocks Out With Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’

Wirtz Center show takes an intense look into the hearts of young Americans craving purpose

  • Musical based on the Green Day albums “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown”
  • “American Idiot” to be directed by Lili-Anne Brown, artistic director of Bailiwick Chicago
  • Fully-staged production to feature live rock band and 19-member Northwestern student cast
  • Wirtz Center adds a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A highly anticipated Green Day musical that explores the angst of young America will be the 2015-16 Mainstage season opener at Northwestern University.

Directed by Northwestern alumna Lili-Anne Brown, Bailiwick Chicago’s artistic director, the production runs from Oct. 16 through Oct. 25, at the University’s Ethel M. Barber Theater, as part of the fall 2015 season at the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts.

The fully-staged production features music by the American punk rock band Green Day, lyrics by the group’s vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and book by Armstrong and Michael Mayer, an American stage and film director. 

Based on the popular Green Day albums “American Idiot” (2004) and “21st Century Breakdown” (2009), the musical follows the show’s main characters: Johnny, Tunny and Will, three young men who want to escape their suburban hometown and search for meaning and freedom in the city. They know they want something else -- they’re just not sure what that is. Fear, war and drugs soon prove easier choices than freedom, eroding their friendship and dreams, and forcing the trio to face a new fast-paced reality.

“We started rehearsals pretty much 20 years to the day that I left campus,” Brown said. “So it’s really a trip. And it’s perfect that I’m back with Green Day’s ‘American Idiot.’ Things are very different now, and that’s truly fascinating. I’m talking to the students about the differences all the time. The students are brilliant and creative, and they add so much to this process. It’s a collaborative journey.” 

Green Day’s “American Idiot” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct.16; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, at Northwestern’s Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus. 

Post show discussions at the Barber Theater with director Brown and the student cast will follow the Oct. 19 and Oct. 22 performances.

The musical also features a live rock band and a 19-member Northwestern student cast.

View a video featuring director Lili-Anne Brown and learn more about the show.

Tickets are $30 for general public; $27 for seniors over 62 and Northwestern faculty and staff and educators; and $10 for full-time students with valid IDs (at the door) or $5 tickets exclusively for full-time Northwestern students on advance purchase. Discounts are available for groups of eight or more.

For more information, phone 847-491-4819, visit the Wirtz Center website or email.

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