'American Idiot' brings Broadway to Tucson
A previous version of this article included the wrong place and time in the box information. This revised version now reflects the correct time and place for this event.
The musical spin-off of Green Day’s 2004 rock opera and critically acclaimed album is making a Tucson stop as part of the production’s third U.S. tour, with a show at Centennial Hall on Saturday. Cast member Casey O’Farrell, who plays Will in the musical, talked to The Daily Wildcat about his preparation for the role, what it’s been like being on the road and how the Nashville, Tenn., native got his start performing in musicals.
DW: You’ve been on tour with this production for quite some time, having been to the U.K., the U.S., Tokyo and Seoul. What’s it been like, and how’s the crowd response been?
O’Farrell: When we were in the U.K., they have such a tradition of political musical theater — and the U.S. is on everyone’s radar as far as politics as well — so since we’re doing such a cool piece about a time frame that America went through that was kind of difficult, everybody responded to it extremely well. … Going around the U.S., it’s kind of hit-or-miss depending on the town. You’ll get to a conservative community, and it’s a quiet house, some people aren’t particularly fans of some of the subject matter that’s being talked about. And then we’ll run into other communities that are the same type of community with uproars here and there and, afterwards, standing ovations. … So, for the most part, the show’s been extremely well-received. I think the Green Day connection and the music and the subject matter, are just something that a lot of people want to address or hear about, and Green Day’s music is entertaining as is, so I think we have a lot of things going for us.
Can you tell me about your preparation for your role as Will?
Preparation is interesting, and I go through a lot of different phases. … I’ll be in a really positive place personally, and then I’ll go on and I’ll do my show and I’ll feel like I’m doing a job — I’m going on and performing as I’ve been directed to. And then, other times, through the troubles of touring, I’ll walk into the theater in a very almost dark place emotionally and mentally. So, it’s one of those roles that, since you exist for 90 minutes in front of everyone, the show kind of changes a lot as far as where the emotions go for me from day to day. … If I’m having a bad day, you’ll see an angry Will, or if I’m having a good day, you’ll see a different kind of Will. So, it’s hard — it’s definitely one of the most challenging roles that I’ve ever tried to take on.
IF YOU GO
What: Green Day’s “American Idiot”
Where: Centennial Hall
When: 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Tickets range from $29 to $65; discounts available for students
Actors typically find an aspect of the character they’re portraying that they can relate to, in order to make the performance more honest. What aspects of Will were like that for you?
I think I have definitely experienced a certain level of depression and self-destructive tendencies over 30 years of living, so I think I can totally relate — especially living in a place that’s not where I want to be at the time. … And then the stuff that I haven’t experienced, like pregnancy, I feel like my character is most relatable as far as America’s concerned because everybody knows someone who’s stayed home post-high school and gotten someone pregnant and now is just there. So, I think there’s a little bit of an easy connection there because I grew up in a rural town in Tennessee, so most of the people that I went to school with then, are kind of like Will now.
What’s the main takeaway point for anyone who decides to come out to the show this weekend?
I think the story was made in a way that everyone’s not going to take the same thing away from watching the show. Kind of the overall message of the show is that these young people are searching for their purpose in a world that’s over-saturated with media, and you turn on the TV and you’re just flooded with this idea of what you’re supposed to be or how you’re supposed to act. … So, I don’t think I could say what the show is supposed to make you take away from it. I’ve always thought of it as one of those that just makes you think.
— Follow Arts Editor Kyle Mittan @KyleMittan