'American Idiot'

Cast members in "American Idiot" are shown during final rehearsals Wednesday night at Playhouse in the Park. The show is the latest entry in the Playhouse After Dark series, and is intended for mature audiences. The show premieres tonight at 7 p.m., with shows running through June 22.

MURRAY — The newest installment in the Playhouse in the Park’s After Dark series will be premiering tonight with “American Idiot.” 

The show is a stage adaptation of the 2004 concept album of the same name from punk rock band Green Day. Ashley Reese, who is directing her first show with “American Idiot,” said the stage version first premiered in 2009. 

“The original director, Michael Mayer approached the band about the concept album and presented it in a way where no one, not even frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, saw it going. It premiered in 2009 and it revolves around three disillusioned young men in the post-9/11 era,” Reese said. “This show is a raw interpretation of three men struggling to find a path outside of their parents’ and society’s expectations — all told through the lyrics of Green Day.” 

Reese described the show as raw, and said this piece of fare for the After Dark series might draw some new faces to the Playhouse, especially fans of Green Day. 

“This show is definitely, in a word, raw. It’s emotional, in-your-face and a lot of times uncomfortable,” Reese said. “It is a bold play to come across the Playhouse After Dark stage, but it is also spectacular. 

“It is spectacular, in a sense of sensory and visual entertainment. Many have already said the lights and the sound of this show is unlike anything they’ve seen here before. And that in itself is exciting. It is also helpful if you love Green Day. This is definitely reaching out for a different audience.”  

Reese said that she hopes audiences leave with a sense of the passion and angst of the characters in the show. 

“I hope audiences are able to take away the passion and angst from these characters,” she said. “I want them to be able to experience and feel what these people are feeling during a time where everyone was disoriented. And in a time of loss and despair, especially in youth, we all cling to things and fillers that aren’t necessarily good for us. This play shows that in several dramatic situations, but I’m a firm believer in treating dramatic situations with humor, so I’ve made sure to add some to lighten the drama.”

Reese has been a Playhouse participant for years, but said her first experience as director has been an exciting one full of learning opportunities. 

“It has been a completely different experience! There are definitely two sides to the coin,” she said. “I had a slight idea, but truly no clue how much work and dedication it took. This is the busiest I have been in a while and I love it. I am so thrilled to be directing my first show, as well as a show of this caliber. I have been doing theatre since high school but have always been on stage, never behind it. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience and I would definitely do it again — after a week of sleep prior.” 

Reese said she would like to think the experience has been great for the cast and crew as well, and added that it has been a rollercoaster of emotions to get prepared for tonight’s premiere. 

“I would like to be biased and say the cast has loved every minute of it — including giving up their weekends for it,” she said. “In complete sincerity, we are a family. They refer to me as ‘Mom,’ and that may or may not have to do with the fact I have cried many times as I have been so proud of them. 

“There are so many incredible and talented actors/actresses in this show and they have truly reached their ‘final form,’ as one of them coined recently. Also, my husband, Jeremy, has been amazing. I don’t know what I would do without him keeping my sanity in check.”

The show is geared towards mature audiences and opens tonight at 7 p.m with shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday through June 22. Tickets and more information can be found at playhousemurray.org or by calling 270-759-1752. 

“I want to thank so many people for their participation and help. Especially, the backstage crew who have worked tirelessly and consistently,” Reese said. “I would be lost without them and the audience needs to know that. The transitions, the lights, the sound, the live band — they are really what have made this show possible.”

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