Photo by Joanne Wastchak
Click here for more information on this production that runs through January 29th.
"Spotlight Youth Theatre excels in presenting exceptional versions of hit musicals that feature young adult characters, such as Rent and Spring Awakening. Their latest offering is the local youth theatre premiere of American Idiot. While this show doesn't quite have as much in-depth plot and character development as those two Tony winning Best Musicals, Spotlight proves that the innocence of the show's characters packs more of an emotional wallop when portrayed by teenagers, and this cast features some of the best of the best youth talent in town...The small Spotlight space works exceptionally well to provide an intimacy for this story of three frustrated and young best friends, Johnny, Will and Tunny, who all take different paths on their road to self-discovery. ..the lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong ..perfectly speak the voices of these men...While the score is phenomenal, there are a few issues with the book, some of which Spotlight is able to smooth over. ...There is very little dialogue in Michael Meyer's book, which is a drawback in a few moments when words could help establish a clearer setting or a character's motivation....Also, the show's ending is somewhat anti-climactic—a quiet resolution after a pulse pounding, non-stop journey. Fortunately, director Bobby Sample, with contributions from choreographer Lynzee 4Man, helps clarify some of the confusion with St. Jimmy and a few other muddled parts ...The youthful cast adds an appropriate level of innocence and believability to the show's large group of characters without any added hints of uncertainty, pretension or falseness. Sam Primack, Joey Grado, and Vincent Pugliese are Johnny, Tunny, and Will. The characters they portray are all slightly older than this trio is in real life, and it is exciting to see these gifted young actors achieve such inspiring results as characters who are all forced into adulthood. The expressive looks and acting choices these three teens deliver is as effective as their soaring vocals. ...Spencer Claus explodes on the scene as the controlling and seductive St. Jimmy with an intensity full of raw emotion. His deep singing voice adds another level to this crowd-pleasing character. As Whatsername, the woman Johnny is drawn to, Sarah Pansing provides an appropriate vulnerability beneath her rough exterior and a powerful voice to match. ...Sample and Bobby Armstrong created a set design that is exceptionally creative in its functionality, ...The combination of Samantha Essary Utpadel's perfect millennium-focused costumes with Trey DeGroodt's punk-influenced hair and make-up designs..helps add a few years to age of the teenage cast. The clarity of the SYT sound system makes every lyric resonate, which is something I didn't get when seeing this show before, including on Broadway. The rich, full sound that music director Mark 4man draws from the cast along with Adam Berger's expert conducting of the smoking band achieve superb results. With the uncertainty that is upon us with a Trump presidency we are living in a world with just as much angst and confusion as the characters of American Idiot felt after 9/11. With clear and concise direction and a sublime cast, Spotlight Youth Theatre's production helps resolve some of the shortcomings I have with the book and results in an energetic, powerful and a raw, emotional experience. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)