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Green Day's American Idiot, The Musical at Berkely Rep

Adding melody to substance can be a risky business. And next week, Berkeley Rep will try it with Green Day’s “American Idiot– the theatrical afterthought to the band’s Grammy winning multi-platinum rock album.

The musical, which features an onstage band and includes every song from the album as well as several songs from Green Day’s new CD, “21st Century Breakdown”, is directed by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening).

When the album came out in 2004, critics wrote that it joined an elite list of albums, such as The Who’s Tommy, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band -- concept albums that successfully weave a narrative through music.

The Who’s 1969 concept album translated into an awesome 1975 movie musical and a worthy 1992 Broadway musical. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band was bastardized into the campy-to-downright bad 1978 Frampton/Bee Gees film, adapted from a forgotten stage effort.

American Idiot, the show has been created in collaboration with frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. One hopes this is a very good sign.

American Idiot runs from September 4 through October 11, opening Berkeley Rep’s 2009/10 season in the state-of-the-art Roda Theatre.