Lolly had been absent from school for a few days last week, so when I returned on Monday and her teacher looked me right in the eye and told me the kids were going to American Idiot, my jaw dropped.
My only exposure to American Idiot was on the grammy’s and something about the band green day and the costumes and makeup just told me it was a strong possibility that American Idiot was not going to be appropriate for a pre-k class.
Very quickly it was cleared up that the class was going to visit the theatre and learn about the set etc., since the set designer’s child is in the class. On the morning of the field trip I found myself with a little extra time, so I jumped on that yellow bus and made my way over to the St. James Theatre with the rest of them.
I have had my share of backstage tours, but I have to say, this set is probably the most incredible I have seen. The tiny model alone was so intricate and detailed and it was the perfect introduction to the kids and adults alike, before we actually stepped in the house and beheld it. It’s too bad the audience can’t sit and stare at it pre-show to take it all in (I’m assuming the curtain is drawn at the top of the show). I imagine if their first exposure to it is met with actors, musicians and lights they hardly get a chance to pick up the extraordinary details.
Seeing it far away is one thing: 4 stories tall, 43 working televisions, a hanging car (that was bought off ebay, driven to the theatre, died halfway there, eventually towed and then met it’s fate with a saw….right down the middle), giant speakers, posters lining the walls, and instruments.
Mounting the stage and looking at it close-up was an entirely different experience: the details of the set are incredible. The smallest of objects set on shelves and in corners to help the actors feel the reality of where they are and what they’re doing. There is graffiti all over the set and in the bathroom set on stage that the actors participated in producing…the audience also gets a chance to write on the walls as they enter and exit the theatre.
After they sat on the stage and looked at the up-close details, they then walked downstage, faced the seats and sang a song. I insisted they do it again and louder and retarding in some places, holding out long notes and ending with a little jazz hands. Lolly was totally into singing it loud for the upper mezzanine to hear, her friend put her fingers over ears and ducked her head in her coat.
The class got to go into the star’s dressing room. It was surprisingly simple and bare. I spoke outloud, “I wonder if he knows a whole class of 5-year-old’s traipsed through his room today,” but the staff responded that he wouldn’t mind in the least….which was cool. I was pretty proud of those kids as they refrained from touching. There were more chords in one place then I have ever seen, and lots of makeup and props backstage. I only saw Lolly reach out one finger and slowly brush it on a pair of costume pants that were hanging up backstage. The restraint!
Needless to write, my children will probably never see this show. I may not even see it, but the experience was pretty amazing and I made sure to take a pic of Lolly on stage at the St. James theatre, just in case she finds herself back there someday.