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‘Raw and real’: Musical Theatre Southwest presents Tony-winning ‘American Idiot’

From left, Austin Embree, Rico Leyva and Paul Dore star in Musical Theatre Southwest’s staging of “American Idiot.” (Courtesy of Jason Ponic Photography)

It’s a week before Laura Nuzum enters tech week for the revival of “American Idiot.”

She’s nervous, because with live performance, anything can happen.

But for the most part, she’s excited.

As the director of Musical Theatre Southwest’s staging of the Tony Award-winning musical, it’s like visiting an old friend.

“We staged this back in 2017, and I was able to bring back all the original cast with the exception of four,” she says. “There weren’t too many obstacles, because we took from what we learned when we originally staged it.”

The two-time Tony Award-winning hit musical is based on the Grammy Award-winning album by Green Day. It begins its run at 7:30 tonight and continues through Sept. 1.

This rock opera includes every song from the Green Day’s album of the same name and several songs from the album “21st Century Breakdown.”

The musical tells the story of group of suburban youths living unhappily in “Jingletown, USA,” saturated with TV and fed up with the state of the union as they deal with modern-day issues, growing up and finding meaning in their lives and the world around them.

“A lot of the issues are still happening in our world of politics and media today,” she says. “With this show, we’re able to do something very different.”

Since the cast of 23 began rehearsing months ago, Nuzum says, the energy of the actors has been amazing.

She notes that the staging of the show is similar to that in 2017, bout each member of the cast and production team has grown to a new level.

“Because we have each changed in our daily lives, we all bring even stronger emotions to the show and staging,” she says. “One of the coolest parts about performing this show, and why I believe it was so successful the first time, is because each person is playing themselves on stage. No inhibitions. No character to create. Raw and real. It’s powerful, and I hope you don’t miss it.”

Nuzum enjoys the challenges of bringing a contemporary rock musical to life, because it’s a genre she enjoys.

“I love the classic musicals, but there are more people talented than I to lead those ones,” she says. “Anything ’80s or ’90s rock show that comes along my way, I’ll find a way to be a part of it.”


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