As American Idiot‘s UK premiere is fast-approaching it seemed the perfect time to pose a few questions to Alex Nee, one of the lead actors set to take the UK and Ireland by storm from October.
Alex, who plays the role of Johnny, is currently busy touring the USA with the show but took some time to talk to The Edge about his experience so far and why he’s so excited about crossing The Atlantic…
DT : It’s always exciting when a big new musical hits the UK but what’s unique about American Idiot?
AN: The show is anchored in a very specific time, place and point of view. It deals with youth in America in a post-9/11 world. It is extremely relevant to events happening all over the world today. People are struggling to break through the white noise that is media overload, the corporate lies and corruption, to find what’s true for themselves. It’s such an exciting show in this way. And on top of the important message, the music fucking rocks.
DT : A lot of actors say that touring can be tough, both mentally and physically. Do you do anything to prepare before a long tour?
AN: This is my first touring experience, so I don’t have a pre-tour routine set yet. I figured that life on the road would seriously lack in home-cooked meals, family and alone time, so I tried to get as much of those things in as possible before starting rehearsals. I spent a month living outdoors in the woods in Northern California, swimming and exercising in the sun, eating organic food grown locally and having as much fun as possible. I also spent some quality time with my parents, siblings and friends from home. Basically I tried to reconnect with my roots and ground myself.
DT : The show has been phenomenally successful and won some huge awards. How did it feel to be cast in a lead role?
AN: I’m still having trouble believing it. I find myself rehearsing in a room full of people I admire and respect. There’s no one in this process that I don’t look up to, which is a great place to be; I get to be a student and learn so much from this dream team who have already done so much inspirational work. On the other hand, the show’s incredible track record puts a lot of pressure on me as the next generation. I’m only the third person to really take on the role of Johnny, and to be put in the same sentence as John Gallagher Jr. and Van Hughes is sort of mind-boggling. The whole thing feels like standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon; it’s fucking beautiful but there’s that rush of fear too.
DT : Were you a fan before you took the part?
AN: Oh yeah! Dookie was one of the first CDs I bought myself. I really got into Green Day when I was in 5th grade and remained a fan since then. I confess that when American Idiot was first released I was really skeptical and barely gave it a chance. I grew up on old-school Green Day and my 8th grade self heard American Idiot and thought, “these guys are selling out!” I didn’t really give it a chance until I saw the musical version on Broadway. It completely changed my perspective. Now I understand how complex and smart and edgy that album really is; I love it.
DT : What’s your favourite moment and song of the show?
AN: The “Representative from Jingletown” moment in ‘Holiday’. We all just get to rock out and scream and pump our fists and yell at the audience. I get so pumped up every time, I actually have to stop myself from going all out, because it’s only the third song in the show and I still have 80 minutes to go.
DT : Does the show attract people who don’t normally go to the theatre? Is it just for Green Day fans or is it something more?
AN: Definitely. Green Day has a lot of fans that will follow them anywhere. So even though some people may be initially thrown off by a punk band writing a Broadway musical, if Green Day is involved, they want to see it. I also think the show successfully introduces many people to punk rock. The show still attracts more seasoned theatergoers who would normally never consider listening to a band like Green Day. I think it definitely takes people out of their art comfort zone.
DT : What excites you about coming to the UK?
AN: I’ve been to the UK twice before and loved it. I went to London with my family when I was 11 years old, and I performed in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival when I was 17. Both times were amazing, but I was younger and under adult supervision. I can’t wait to revisit everything I loved about the UK (the people, the beautiful surroundings, the history, the energy), but this time as an adult. I plan on having as much fun as possible, meeting lots of new people and tasting a lot of scotch.
DT : Finally, if you had to sum up American Idiot in three words, what three words would you choose?
AN: Rage, love and guy-liner.
Green Day’s American Idiot begins its run at The Mayflower on Tuesday 9th October and ends on Saturday 13th October. Tickets can be bought here.