April 21, 2010 / 8:37 PM / 9 years ago

Green Day musical no "time of your life": critics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Green Day’s new musical “American Idiot” lacks punk cred, edge and originality, but a good cast and powerful songs make it decent entertainment, U.S. critics said in reviews published on Wednesday.

Green Day, with the cast of "American Idiot", performs "21 Guns" at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles January 31, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The musical that brings the U.S. band’s punk rock opera album “American Idiot” to the stage opened on Broadway on Tuesday. Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong co-wrote the story and helped adapt songs from the Grammy-winning 2004 album of the same name and from 2009’s “21st Century Breakdown.”

One of the most anticipated Broadway musicals this year, the show about three frustrated youths searching for meaning in the post-9/11 era left some reviewers underwhelmed.

“American Idiot comes across as ordinary,” the Washington Post said, while The New York Observer commented: “...amid all the booming rock...” the show was “a little dull.”

“It’s a noble effort and not a bad way to spend a night. But, in the end, I did not have the time of my life,” the Observer said, in a nod to the band’s 1997 hit song “Good Riddance (Time of Your life)” that is turned into a sing-a-long guitar-strumming encore in the show.

A few reviewers were upbeat, including The New York Times, which called it a “...thrillingly raucous and gorgeously wrought Broadway musical.”

The production captures mainstream pop but not the punk revival the band is known for, other reviewers said.

“Anyone who had hoped that Green Day would finally bring punk-rock nihilism to Broadway is about to be sorely disappointed,” USA Today said, while at the same time calling it a “fundamentally affectionate, surprisingly uplifting show.”

The New York Post said it showed “the punk-rock brigade isn’t out to upend Broadway” and the encore revealed “that an American Idiot is only a breath away from an American Idol,” in a reference to the hit Fox TV talent show that mostly showcases mainstream pop.

Others said the musical was not as accomplished as previous rock opera tales of youthful angst and rebellion such as the Tony award-winning musical “Spring Awakening.”

New York Magazine called it “a dizzyingly miscalculated adaptation” of the album and added: “Its version of youthful anomie is so far off the mark ... that the effect is almost comical. But mostly just irritating.”

Entertainment business publication Variety agreed, saying that “while likely to find an appreciative audience” the show doesn’t have the impact of “its illustrious predecessors.”

Others said the story line was thin and the characters lacked depth.

“Thanks for the music, Green Day. But, jeez, could you have spared a story? And a couple characters who aren’t cliche stick figures?” the New York Daily News said, but noted: “The songs sound great.”

Reporting by Christine Kearney: Editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Walsh

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