Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.
Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre. David Nielsen

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

GOOSEBUMPS will form on the arms of every die-hard Green Day fan as soon as the iconic guitar rift of American Idiot belts out from the stage of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

A sense of excitement begins to build in your stomach and your heart will race in anticipation of reliving many of the band's biggest hits which are part of the exclusive-to-Brisbane, Australian premiere season of Green Day's American Idiot The Musical.

The Playhouse Theatre has been transformed into a grungy, street alley setting for the Grammy Award-winning show, which tells the tale of three lifelong friends who became the much-loved band Green Day, who are still regarded one of the most successful bands the world has seen.

The show features the music of Green Day with the lyrics of its lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, which are performed by a talented line-up of Australian musical theatre performers.

The all-Australian cast step to a rigorous and impressive choreographed dance routine to every song from Green Day's album American Idiot, as well as several songs from their follow-up release, 21st Century Breakdown.

Sharing the featured role of rebellious and charismatic St Jimmy is two of Australia's biggest music legends: Chris Cheney, guitarist and lead vocalist of the rock band The Living End, and Phil Jamieson, the enigmatic frontman for the alternative rock band Grinspoon.

 

Chris Cheney (centre) of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot currently performing at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.
Chris Cheney (centre) of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot currently performing at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre. David Nielsen

Speaking at a special rehearsal just for the media, Chris Cheney described the show as an entertaining couple of hours which were sure to have the audience singing along in their seats.

"Its not just full-throttle punk rock. It's actually got an amazing story line and its really deep," Cheney said.

"There are so many different emotions in this show. There are some really sad moments and some funny parts. I find myself almost crying towards the end.

"To hear these songs intertwined with narrative is really interesting. It's just a new spin on their tunes. And it's entertaining. What more could you want from the theatre?"

Cheney knows the Green Day members personally, as his band The Living End has supported the American stars when they brought their shows Down Under in previous years.

Having worked closely with Billie Joe Armstong, Cheney has learnt to imitate his facial expressions and rock movements perfectly. If you were to squint your eyes while looking at him, you could swear it was actually Armstrong standing right in front of you.

 

Cheney said it was a privilege to take to the stage and live out the life of the international rockstars, who he believes would be impressed with the calibre of the show.

"We supported Green Day but we were fans before then. To sing their songs is super fun. They are so energetic," he said.

"They are very clever guys and very nice guys, and I think they would be just blown away by the Australian talent which is in this performance."

Cheney, a veteran of the music stage, said his latest role was different to past performances, but he still loved every minute of being in front of a live audience.

"This is different to a gig with The Living End. Normally I would be halfway through a bottle of something before the show," he joked.

"But I can't do that with this because you have to be a little bit more focused.

"Before I go out on stage I just pace the floor and make sure I don't miss my cue."

Artistic director Nick Skubij said theatre shows like Green Day's American Idiot The Musical could be the future for other bands to have their music heard on a grand scale to larger audiences.

Going through a band's set list with multiple performances over a few months give added value for fans who might miss out on the opportunity to see their favourite bands for a one-off show.

"This is a great way for bands to take the next step and dabble in other things," Mr Skubij said.

"This is a great way for Green Day fans to come and see their music instead of wanting to go to crowded stadiums and make their way to the front. This is an alternative, more comfortable way to come and experience the music.

"It is still really loud and engaging."

With a wide variety of songs and titles, the band Green Day created a number of characters which are well known to any true fan.

Mr Skubij said this made it easy to create a theatrical performance.

"There was this narrative in the tracks already without having to do too much work to put them into a theatrical context," he said.

"These characters, such as the Jesus of Surburbia and the Whatsername, were already there."

Green Day's American Idiot The Musical is now on show at Brisbane's QPAC Playhouse theatre for three weeks only.

For tickets, visit QPAC's website, or phone 136 246.

Warning: Video may contain some course language.

 



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