'American Idiot' to be stage musical

Trio's newest album due May 15

DETROIT -- Michael Mayer, the Tony Award-winning director of "Spring Awakening," is adapting the trio's 2004 concept album -- which sold 12 million copies worldwide and won Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album and Record of the Year -- for the Berkeley Repertory Theatre on Green Day's home turf in California. The production will run Sept. 4-Oct. 11 to open the company's 2009-10 season, with tickets now on sale for early performances at berkeleyrep.org.

Mayer and Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong collaborated on the script for "American Idiot," which follows the working class subjects of the album's songs -- including Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy and a female protagonist called Whatsername -- as they "express their individuality in a mass-media culture." The 19-member company will be choreographed by Olivier Award-winner Steven Hoggett.

Armstrong said in a statement that Green Day has "been thinking of bringing 'American Idiot' to the stage but knew we needed to find the right partners...We were so impressed with ('Spring Awakening') as well as (Mayer's) vision for 'American Idiot' that we knew we'd found the perfect collaborator." Having the musical staged by the Berkeley Rep, Armstrong noted, "was an obvious bonus."

Mayer added that, "When I first heard 'American Idiot,' I was struck by its innate theatricality. Here was a new musical drama begging to be staged...I knew and liked Green Day but had no clue that I would ever feel so inside their songs." He called collaborating with Armstrong and company, "a mind-blowing thrill."

The musical will make an already busy 2009 even more so for Green Day. The group is in the midst of a vinyl rollout of its entire catalog, while its long-awaited follow-up to "American Idiot," another concept album called "21st Century Breakdown," will be released on May 15. The first single, "Know Your Enemy," will go to radio and digital retailers in April. Green Day is expected to start a North American tour supporting the album in July, with the reunited Blink-182 expected to open