‘American Idiot’ The Musical Opens At The Peabody

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The Peabody Opera House brings its first bonafide Broadway show to St. Louis this weekend.

It is called 'American Idiot;' a rock opera based on the hit album of the same name by the punk rock group Green Day.

The musical also includes a few well known songs from other Green Day albums to help the story make sense.

And from the very first minute of the show, the energy is atomic.

'It`s intense, it`s real and it's rewarding to do, it`s an assault on everybody, the audience, the performers, physically, emotionally it`s intense,' said Scott J. Campbell, who plays 'Tunny,' one of the lost young people at the center of the show.

In fact, the show is all about three friends who go through difficult personal life experiences in a post 9-11 world.  The show is sometimes compared to 'Rent,' or 'Spring Awakening,' which have similar motifs, but Nicci Claspill, whose character is called 'The Extraordinary Girl,' says the show is even more intense than "Rent," in which she has appeared twice.

'A lot of people do make the comparison, but it is kind of on a different level.  It`s not the same happy ending, not same kind of hopefulness,' she said.

One of the most challenging moments for both Claspill and Campbell comes when the two of them, he playing a wounded veteran, and she his nurse, perform an aerial ballet.  The two actors began rehearsing their acrobatics an entire week before the rest of the cast was brought together to learn the show.

'It was a little scary at first when we were learning how to do it, but now getting on stage every night is exhilarating, absolutely so much fun,' Claspill said.

For the Peabody Opera House, launching its inaugural Broadway season with "American Idiot" is a bit of a risky move, but John Urban, the theater`s  executive vice president for events and new business,  sees starting with "American Idiot" as a way to plant the Peabody`s flag in the world of St. Louis theater.

'There was a statement there, we`re new, we are innovative, one of the things we have said about ourselves along with the sound and the site lines is the diversity of what we are offering folks,' he said.

Despite singing in a rock opera night after night, and sometimes twice a day, Campbell says there is a big difference between being a Broadway star and a rock star.

'I wake up every morning and I sound (raspy) and it takes me five hours to get my voice back for the show, but if I go out drinking or live like a rock star outside the show,  it just doesn`t happen,' he said.

Campbell also believes despite the show`s edgy book and lyrics, audiences will leave having had an essential theater experience.

'There`s profane language, adult themes, and heart wrenching loss and that is why we go to the theater to be blown away, to feel something, to come away thinking and that is what this show does,' he said.

'American Idiot' opens at the Peabody Friday, with two shows Saturday and Sunday.

The show following it is from the opposite end of the spectrum, 'Fiddler on the Roof,' which comes to the Peabody in April.