Tuesday, April 23

American Idiot – The Plaza, Northwich

Based on rock band Green Days album of the same name, and with original lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong, ‘American Idiot’, the musical, is performed by the Mid Cheshire Musical Theatre Company (MCMTC) this week. Having first performed in 2009, winning several awards including a Grammy for best musical show album, MCMTC now grace the stage at Northwich Plaza with their version directed by Louise Colohan.

This energetic rock musical tells the tale of Jonny (Blair Smith), Will (Scott Heath) and Tunny (Jack Parry) and their desire to escape a very oppressive and overwhelmingly ‘hum drum’ suburbia. With a score that includes the songs from Green Days original ‘American Idiot’ album this production was certainly a brave undertaking by MCMTC.

The cast were all outstanding, however it would be remiss not to highlight Blair Smith who performed the lead role of ‘Jonny’. Smith has performed with other societies previously and was an excellent choice. With musicality in abundance and masses of stage presence he seemed to become more energised each time he performed one of the songs. This was Smiths first appearance with MCMTC and hopefully not his last. Smith is one of those actors that audiences can’t take their eyes off when on stage.

Amelia Lambert who played the role of ‘Heather’ not only had excellent vocals she provided such raw emotion at her situation of being Wills girlfriend whose character by contrast, hardly moved from his sofa. The interaction between the two at all times was so opposing, that you could feel the emotional distress each was experiencing. Scott Heath who performed the role of ‘Will’ depicted a depressive personality who struggled to accept the situation he was in and was clearly missing his friends.

Photo: Paul Downham

The band must be acknowledged for keeping the entire performance on track. Being visible at the back of the stage must have surely been an added pressure but they carried it off well. As a visual, the guitarists framed the stage wonderfully and Alex Scrowther on Bass was exceptional.

At times it was a little difficult to hear certain voices on stage and some vocals were a little pitchy. However, it must also be acknowledged that this is to be balanced with watching a very energetic and at times emotional rock musical with much choreography on stage. Choreographer, Jenna Finnigan must be applauded- movement to such a genre of music is a challenge but this was well executed particularly in the performance of the ensemble pieces.

The cast came out into the audience at various points. This worked very well – in the first half the cast appeared almost ‘zombie like’ with a ‘Shaun of the Dead’ feel which was perfect for the particular scene which reflected the story lines desperation.

In many ways the Plaza at Northwich was a perfect stage setting for this performance- with exposed brickwork and metal platforms of various levels it added to the raw energy on stage. The set worked well in every scene and Stage Manager Paul Downham must be applauded for this along with Stage crew, Stuart Robinson and Martin Scrowther. Lighting, with acknowledgment to Nicholas Field was particularly good in terms of evoking a ‘punk type’ atmosphere, in particular lighting of the three main characters when performing together.

MCMTCs last performance was ‘Sunshine on Leith’ and was always going to be a hard act to follow. However, they have undoubtedly pulled it out of the bag again. ‘American Idiot’ was energetic, youthful, emotional and utterly refreshing to watch. Whilst there is swearing, sexual references and scenes depicting drug taking, it demonstrated that MCMTC are not afraid to put on a performance if the story is good enough. If you like musicals I would suggest that you may not have seen one quite like this before.

On until 12th March tickets can be obtained via www.midcheshiremusicals.org.uk/tickets or you can call the Box Office on 0333 030 1058.

Reviewer: Angela Kelly

Reviewed: 9th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★