I went looking through my archives, and I don’t think I’ve ever talked about a documentary here before, which is strange because I really like both working in documentaries and watching them. Though I enjoy documentaries that offer a new point of view about a subject I know, or that introduce me to a completely new thing, I also really like the ones that aim only to show a behind the scenes look of something. I’m a big fan of the making of anything, be it television shows, movies or, in the case of “Broadway Idiot”, the musical based on Green Day’s album “American Idiot”.
“Broadway Idiot” is a look at the entire production process of the Broadway musical that opened back in 2010. It isn’t anything like reality television, so don’t go into it expecting confrontations or any big dramatic moments. Instead, it gives the audience a glimpse of everything that goes into the creation of a musical, from the band’s approval to the building of the set.
I thought this documentary was particularly interesting because I was never sure about how much Green Day was involved with the musical’s inception. Here, we discover that what began as casual interest turned into a full-fledged collaboration, and it was cool to see these punk guys getting really interested in Broadway. The documentary focuses a lot on Billy Joe Armstrong’s musical trajectory, and there are several interesting interviews with him about the show’s journey to Broadway. This is a cool part of the movie, but I would’ve liked to see more focus on the other aspects of the musical as well, such as the choreography and the actor’s preparation for their roles. John Gallagher Jr., who played main character Johnny, has mentioned the physical toll the musical took on all the actors, and it would have been cool to see more attention drawn to that.
The quick views we do get of the staging process are really fun, especially if you’re a big fan of musicals like I am. There’s also some nice remarks about how personal the album was to Billy Joe, which really makes you grasp the difficulty of translating it to the stage in a genuine way that made both the band and the audiences happy.
I’ve watched a lot of videos and bootlegs of the musical on YouTube, and, invariably, in the comments there’s always someone criticizing it and saying how it destroyed the original album. This is a very narrow-minded view, and I liked how the documentary actually showed Green Day’s understanding of the changes that had to be made in order to tell the story.
I’ve seen a couple of musical-related documentaries, and it’s always nice to see the excitement of the cast about every step of the process. This one had some really cool moments, such as the first time they saw the set, and when they showed the first song to the band. I highly recommend giving this documentary a chance, especially if you also like the behind the scenes aspect of things. Even though it was superficial in some points, I can understand why giving that the production of a musical usually takes years and it’s virtually impossible to catch everything. You can watch the documentary here on YouTube, and if you’d like to jump on the “American Idiot” bandwagon with me, here and here are a couple of their Tony Awards performances!
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