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.

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

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.

Opening weekend performances are: 8 p.m. Feb. 14, “Sharp Dressed Men”; 2 p.m. Feb. 15, “From Now On”; 8 p.m. Saturday, “Sharp Dressed Men”; 4 p.m. Sunday, “All the Rage.” Tickets cost $22 and $26; 439-3800 or

IN LEWISTON, The Public Theatre presents the quirky comedy “Tigers Be Still” through Sunday.

The play by Kim Rosenstock looks at how some folks handle the tough moments in life. Sherry Wickman has a master’s in art therapy, and is unemployed and living at home.


Her jilted sister is already there, nursing a broken heart with a bottle of scotch, and their mom is stuck upstairs, too embarrassed by weight gain to come downstairs.

Christopher Schario directs; 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; $5 to $20; 782-3200 or

THIS IS THE FINAL WEEKEND for the Maine premiere of Noah Haidle’s “Vigils” at Mad Horse Theatre Company, 24 Mosher St., South Portland.

A heart-breaking comedy, this play examines the journey from love and loss to the ultimate embrace of life.

The Widow’s fireman-husband died in a burning building trying to save a baby. Instead of grieving, the Widow keeps his soul in a box in her bedroom and takes it out for conversation and the occasional hug.

She and the Wooer, a friend of her husband, go on a date. While they are out, the husband’s soul and the body play out moments from their life and his death.


Nathan Speckman directs a cast of Janice Gardner, Burke Brimmer, Mark Rubin, Jody McColman and Raina Sparks; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday; pay-what-you-can on Thursday, $15 to $20; 747-4148 or

IN BRUNSWICK, The Theatre Project. 14 School St., presents Annie Baker’s new translation of Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece “Uncle Vanya” Friday through Feb. 9. The play is about the struggles of a routine existence. Baker has created a colloquial version with a modern perspective.

Directed by Christopher Price, “Uncle Vanya” features Payne Ratner, Craig Ela, David Butler, Maureen Butler and Abigail Killeen; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

All tickets are pay-what-you-can, available at or 729-8584.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

Twitter: pphbkeyes

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