The red carpet was abuzz with excitement the evening of Sept. 26, as Shenandoah Conservatory premiered Green Day’s “American Idiot” in the flashiest of styles.
The volume was deafening in the lobby of Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre as crowds gathered to celebrate the opening of the show. The flash of the camera captured the excitement of theatre goers as they posed for photos on the red carpet in VIP style.
“The red carpet symbolizes that this really the official premiere and this is something to be proud of,” said freshman musical theatre major Casie Pepe-Winshell. “To be a freshman, and for this to be the first main stage show that I have seen and experienced here in my college career, is so incredible and inspiring. It makes me so excited for my four years here at Shenandoah.”
Under the direction of Associate Professor of Music Theatre Jonathan Flom, M.F.A., Green Day’s “American Idiot” is a groundbreaking new rock musical, utilizing hit music from the California punk band’s 2004 album of the same name as well as their 2009 album “21st Century Breakdown.”
Opening night was a flurry of activity for Flom, who was excited for people from different areas of his life to converge in the same place at the same time. “I’m kind of overwhelmed,” he said. “My parents are here, and people I know from college and people I taught in college, people from New York — it’s kind of crazy.”
A great number of industry representatives from the theatre business and alumni from New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., were in attendance on opening night. “It’s great for them to see what we’re doing, and it’s great for our students to get connected with them,” said Flom.
According to Flom, “American Idiot” is one of the edgiest shows ever presented on Shenandoah’s main stage. Audience members were prepared for that, as well as content that brings a great number of emotions to the forefront.
“I expected to see something that was a little boundary pushing; something that expanded our horizons and made us think, and hopefully laugh a bit, as well as cry. The show completely exceeded my expectations,” said Director of International Programs Bethany Galipeau-Konate, D.Prof. “What better place to do a college premiere of a musical than at Shenandoah University, which hosts one of the premiere musical theatre programs for students? I think it’s a perfect match.”
Sean Dunavant, a former conservatory student, saw the original performance of “American Idiot” on Broadway, and he looked forward to seeing the transition to a college stage. Dunavant traveled from Richmond, Virginia, to celebrate opening night with good friends he met while attending Shenandoah.
“I’m so excited — they’re my closest friends, so to see them up on stage and see how much they’ve grown since I’ve been away is just really exciting for me. It’s like a big reunion for all of us,” said Dunavant.