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Dan Tracy, Jared Nepute and Casey O’Farrell of “American Idiot” perform on stage. The musical will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at Jesse Auditorium.

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Green Day-inspired musical comes to Jesse Auditorium

Almost 10 years after the band released its iconic album, the ‘American Idiot’ musical pays a visit to MU.

By Claudia Guthrie | Jan. 21, 2014

Tags: Jesse Hall Music

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The Tony Award-winning musical “American Idiot” is bringing a night of punk rock to Columbia on Thursday.

The 90-minute show follows three friends, Johnny, Will and Tunny. They’re stuck in suburbia and disgruntled with their lives passing them by, until Johnny comes up with the idea to move to New York City and find where they belong.

Jared Nepute, who plays Johnny, describes the show as a coming-of-age story.

“It’s a high-energy show, very physical, very exciting, and the choreography and the lighting and everything is incredible,” Nepute says. “It’s basically a staged rock concert, in a way. It’s such a fun, theatrical experience that not many people would be used to. It’s very different and very unique. It’s kind of it’s own thing, which is very fun to be a part of.”

Nathan Anderson, assistant director of the University Concert Series, said the Concert Series has been interested in bringing “American Idiot” to MU for a couple of years, but until now, the show wasn’t able to fit Jesse Auditorium’s stage dimensions.

“American Idiot” features every song from the Green Day album, along with other songs not seen on the album, such as “21 Guns” and “When It’s Time.”

“What I love about the show is it’s so rock,” Nepute says. “It’s not a watered-down version of punk rock. What the audience hears coming from us and coming from the band is nearly identical to what you will hear on the album.”

Nepute says the acting and the music are married throughout the piece, allowing the actors to become completely engulfed in the music.

“I actually have the freedom to kind of feel the beat and feel the rhythm,” Nepute says. “I have all the freedom to dig into it physically on stage. I can pound my foot or all these different things. It’s pretty liberating to not feel like I just have to stand there stoically and deliver my lines or sing this song.”

Anderson says “American Idiot” tells a unique story that is sure to draw in students.

“A lot of people have called it this generation’s ‘Hair,’ and I think I would completely agree with that,” Anderson says. “There’s a strong political message, and there’s also the obvious entertainment value. It’s a show that got a lot of attention on Broadway and any time we can bring a show like that to Columbia, then we’re certainly all for it.”

Jesse Auditorium is one of many stops “American Idiot” is making on its third U.S. tour. Nepute says the show is making its way to a bunch of colleges, and the material is especially relatable to a student audience.

“It’s a show for our generation,” Nepute says. “We all kind of grew up with this album and can relate to the message that it’s sending.”

Nepute says for him, the messages of the album hit harder and in a deeper place now than when Green Day released “American Idiot” in 2004.

“If you’re frustrated about something as far as your life or politics or any of that, then you need to take action,” Nepute says. “This album and this message is about being politically active and bettering your situation. It’s about making a choice and not sitting on the couch and being frustrated about it. It’s about going for something.”

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