January 30

‘American Idiot’ to rock Merrill Auditorium

The musical based on Green Day’s hit album highlights a busy winter theater season in southern Maine.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The rock ’n’ roll musical “American Idiot” about rebellion and coming of age comes to Portland’s Merrill Auditorium next week, giving the winter theater schedule a jolt of energy.

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Olivia Puckett (Whatsername) and the Ladies of “American Idiot.”

Jeremy Daniel photo

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WHEN: 8 p.m. Feb. 6

WHERE: Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland

HOW MUCH: $45 to $60, Merrill box office or PortTix; 842-0800; porttix.com

INFO: portlandovations.org

Billie Joe Armstrong, the guitarist and singer in the rock band Green Day, wrote the music for the show, basing it on the band’s album of the same name. It’s about a trio of young men, two of whom escape their suburban upbringing while the other stays close to home. The show explores themes of youthful exuberance, new-found freedoms and realities of adulthood, city life and war.

“It’s just a really great show, and I think most of the people my age can relate to it,” said actress Taylor Jones, who plays the role of Extraordinary Girl and sings two big solos late in the show.

Portland Ovations brings the national tour to Merrill Auditorium on Feb. 6.

It marks the Maine premiere of the musical, which garnered a Tony Award nomination for best musical in 2010 and won a Grammy Award for best album from a musical that same year.

Jones, who is 21, said the hardest part of the show is the choreography. It’s a high-energy show, performed straight through without an intermission.

“The dances are very hard and very specific,” she said. “A lot of us lost anywhere from five to 10 pounds on the first month of the tour.”

Jones is from California, and this is the first time she has been part of a national tour. She joined the cast in late October.

The musical includes the songs “21 Guns,” “Holiday” and the title track.

It is one among many shows on stage in Portland and across southern Maine.

Here are five other theater choices for the winter: 

GOOD THEATER presents the Portland premiere of the comedy “Becky’s New Car,” written by Steven Dietz. It opens this week and runs through Feb. 23 at the St. Lawrence Arts Center on Munjoy Hill.

Becky Foster finds herself stuck in a middle-age rut, with a job she doesn’t love and a flat-line marriage.

When a floundering rich man shows up at the car dealership where Becky works, she faces the prospects of a new life.

Brian P. Allen, Good Theater’s artistic director, directs. Laura Ellen Lewis Houck stars as Becky, with Paul Drinan as her husband, Joe; Jesse Leighton plays their son, Chris; Paul Haley plays the wealthy Walter Flood; Alison McCall plays Flood’s daughter, Kenni; Wil Kilroy plays Becky’s co-worker, Steve; and Kathleen Kimball plays Flood’s neighbor, Ginger.

Performances are at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturday, and matinees at 2 p.m. Sundays and occasional Saturdays; $20 to $28; 885-5883 or goodtheater.com

FOR VALENTINE’S DAY, why settle for one love? “The Sharp Dressed Men Trilogy,” on stage Feb. 14 through March 2 at the Star Theatre at the Kittery Community Center, suggests that three might be better than one.

The trilogy by Rye, N.H., playwright G. Matthew Gaskell, includes three plays about love and marriage: “From Now On,” “Sharp Dressed Men” and “All the Rage.”

In the first, Tom and Henry throw a bachelor party for their brother in hopes of convincing him not to get married. In the second, they avert disaster on the day of a long-anticipated wedding, and in the third George’s big day is threatened by an unexpected appearance of the “box of pain.”

While these shows have been performed individually across the region, this is the first time they’ve been performed together.

They will be presented in repertory each weekend of the run. Kent Stephens, who founded Stage Force, directs.

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Additional Photos

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The cast of The Public Theatre’s “Tigers Be Still,” from left, Rebecca Hart, Joseph Tisa, Anna O’Donoghue and Noah Witke.

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Laura Hauck, Paul Haley and Paul Drinan in Good Theater’s comedy “Becky’s New Car” at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland.

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Abigail Killeen stars in "Uncle Vanya" at the Theatre Project in Brunswick.

Courtesy photo

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Janice Gardner and Mark Rubin in Mad Horse Theatre's "Vigils."

James Hoban photo

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The cast of "The Sharp Dressed Men" on stage at Stage Force in Kittery, from left, Andy Fling, G. Matthew Gaskell and Chris Savage.

David J. Murray photo

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Olivia Puckett (Whatsername) and Jared Nepute (Johnny) in “American Idiot.”

Jeremy Daniel photo

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