Posts Tagged ‘Alexis Gerred’

This 2009 musical is an adaptation of 90’s US band Green Day’s 2004 comeback concept album of the same name, a ‘punk rock opera’ along the lines, conceptually, of The Who’s Tommy. I’m not a Green Day fan, but it’s clear you’d be hard pressed to find a better score for a rock musical. The original production, directed by Spring Awakening’s Michael Meyer, ran on Broadway for a year then toured the UK in 2012, ending with a short residency at Hammersmith Apollo, but this is its first proper West End outing.

It tells the story in song of three friends who leave home together. One turns back before the adventure has started when his girlfriend announces she’s pregnant. Another is seduced by the military en route and is soon heading for Iraq. Johnny continues his drug-fuelled adventure under the influence of St. Jimmy, falling in love with a girl called Whatshername. There’s next to no dialogue and the sound doesn’t allow all of the lyrics to get through, so if you’re unfamiliar with the music you struggle to fully comprehend the narrative, but it’s clearly an examination of the plight of the American youth post-09/11.

I thought The Arts Theatre might be too small for it, but it isn’t. Sara Perks grungy design, with excellent rock show lighting from Tim Deiling, makes great use of the space. This is a big gig for director / choreographer Racky Plews (who I will forever be grateful to for her wonderful Guys & Dolls Upstairs at the Gatehouse) and she does a terrific job. The four male leads are all great. Aaron Sidwell has huge charisma as Johnny. Alexis Gerred’s journey from punk to GI injured in war is very well played. Steve Rushton has the less ‘sexy’ role of stay-at-home Will, in which he acquits himself well. Lucas Rush plays the faustian St. Jimmy with just the right combination of danger and dark humour. Much has been made of the casting of X-Factor’s Amelia Lily, but it’s not a big role (particularly in the vocal department), though she performs it very well. There’s a great ensemble and a crack 4-piece band on the upper level.

I’m not a Green Day fan, but I was impressed by this. They need to work on the sound before opening night to make it less muddy and to make all of the lyrics fully audible. That done, I think this will be a hit and may well transfer after its three months at the Arts. Next month provides an opportunity to re-visit Tommy, the first rock opera, in Greenwich. I can’t wait.


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When I heard they were going to stage a rock musical at the Finborough (a space just twice the size of my living room) I feared hearing damage. So the first of many congratulations goes to Tom Hishman, whose brilliant sound ensures you hear every word and every note and don’t go home deaf!

This is the European premiere of a semi-autobiographical show by Scottish-American husband & wife team Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon about a songwriting / performing partnership in the late 70’s / early 80’s punk / new wave period (the last period of popular musical greatness!).

Ian and Monica meet when Ian’s brother, Monica’s university friend, suggests they co-write her Bat Mitzvah song commission. Monica’s a feisty red-head and Ian’s a recluse, Jewish and Catholic respectively, yet they hit it off and the professional partnership evolves into a personal one too. They win a pub talent show and head to London where they become part of the punk boom and get a Number One. Next stop New York City, where they discover they don’t both want fame and Ian returns to his Glasgow bedroom leaving behind more than just Marion.

It packs a lot of story into 80 unbroken minutes and you really do get to know these characters well. What I liked about the music was how it served the story, not just lyrically but also in its changes of style to reflect the events it portrays. With the audience on two sides and the four-piece band and both performers on four platforms and a floor covered in wooden planks, it’s as intimate as the Finborough has ever been. Designer Philip Lindley has cleverly surrounded the space with walls of similar wooden planks with windows, lights and signs within them illuminating changing locations. There’s fine lighting too from Neill Brinkworth.

Cassidy Janson and Alexis Gerred perform with great commitment and passion, as if their lives depended on it. Their energy and enthusiasm are infectious and they make you believe in the story and the relationship. I’ve seen and enjoyed Cassidy before but this may be the best she’s done so far – a star if ever I saw one. Alexis is new to me and impressed greatly. There’s a terrific four-piece band led by Barney Ashworth who are tight enough to hold their own at a rock gig any day of the week. Director Andrew Keates has delivered a production as close to perfect as you’d probably ever get.

Yet another triumph for the Finborough. Only 14 performances left. Be at one of them.

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