An amateur musical theatre society in Cheshire are currently in rehearsals for the little performed musical American Idiot featuring the music of American rock band Green Day.
We spoke to director Louise Colohan ahead of their final weeks in rehearsal.
You are back with Mid Cheshire Musical Theatre Company for a third time to direct Green Day’s American Idiot. Did it take long for the committee to convince you that you were the director for this show?
Not long at all. I said yes immediately. This is a rare opportunity to create something innovative and special which can redefine how people see musical theatre in the area. Following the success of Evita and Sunshine on Leith I felt this was an amazing challenge for both myself and the society.
For those unaware, can you briefly describe the show?
The show is set in post 9/11 America and follows the lives of three friends Johnny Will and Tunny as they try to find their purpose and adventure away from their small-town upbringing. Their lives increasingly diverge as each tries to find his own path to fulfilment. All this is set to a pulsating punk rock score based on the music of Green Day.
This show couldn’t be more different in style to Sunshine on Leith which was the first full musical presented in Cheshire post lockdown. Are there any similarities between the two shows?
I think that there are similar themes running across these shows. In both we follow friends who are looking to find their place in a society by which they feel rejected and undervalued. Both shows also touch upon issues relating to substance abuse, violence and the tragic cost of war. Whilst The Proclaimers and Green Day, whose music inspires these shows, couldn’t be more diverse I think the similarities show the universality of the struggles which young people face when trying to find meaning in their lives.
The show is to be performed at Northwich Plaza, a new venue for Mid Cheshire. Was the venue specifically chosen due to the rock nature of the show?
The venue has actually been used by Mid Cheshire for rehearsal purposes previously however once American Idiot had been selected, it was immediately apparent that the Plaza was perfect venue to reflect the aesthetic that I had in mind to be able to tell the story truthfully. I think the audiences will be impressed with how effectively the theatre and the music complement each other.
Have there been challenges producing a show at The Plaza you didn’t foresee?
We have previously performed at the Brio which is a beautiful modern venue with all the luxuries and facilities one could hope for. The Plaza is a very different beast and we have had to take an almost “back to bricks” approach in preparing it for a full stage production such as American idiot. This has included bringing in an entire new lighting rig and sound equipment and we are truly indebted to the expertise of our technicians who been integral in shaping the look of the show. In addition, the lack of either substantial wing space or changing rooms has meant that we have had to find ways of keeping the cast on stage at virtually all times. The hard work has been all worth it though and we now have a unique venue within which to tell our story.
We understand there was a huge interest when this show was announced, and auditions were highly sought after. How long was the deliberation process post audition?
Initial response to the announcement was incredible and I feel that a number of performers had just been waiting for the opportunity to audition for this show. The standard of auditionees was unbelievably high and there were some passionate debates amongst the selection panel before our cast was selected. In the end I believe all the correct decisions were made and it is now difficult to imagine anyone else playing the roles.
Mid Cheshire are fast gaining a reputation for producing shows that don’t necessarily get the exposure they deserve. Does that add extra pressure when directing?
In a way the pressure is lessened as the cast and ultimately the audience have fewer preconceived ideas about how the show should look. This gives the production team ample room to allow their own vision to be realised. Obviously having a blank sheet of paper to start with can be intimidating however it is the sort of challenge that I enjoy.
Now rehearsals are culminating in no doubt full runs of the show, do you have a favourite moment you know the audience will lap up?
I have looked to create a truly immersive experience for the audience and believe that they will particularly enjoy being in the centre of the action at certain points. Without revealing any spoilers, I also feel the ending of the show packs a real emotional punch that will leave the audience wanting more.
Big Fish is the next musical Mid Cheshire are producing in September over the road at Memorial Court, another rarely performed show. Can you give a brief synopsis and you excited to get started on this one?
Big Fish will be another huge change of pace for the society. It is based on the Tim Burton film of the same name and tells the story of Edward Bloom and his incredible journey through life. Whilst it is a relatively new show, it pays homage to the great Broadway shows of the past with massive dance numbers, mind blowing special effects and of course unforgettable songs. I can’t wait to get started as soon as the curtain falls on American idiot.
American Idiot plays at The Plaza, Northwich from the 9th – 12th March. Can you sum up the show in just 3 words?
Raw, Rebellious, Riveting
For tickets and further information on this show visit https://midcheshiremusicals.org.uk/