An explosive group of talented artists has been announced to star in the Australian premiere season of Green Day’s American Idiot as the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) from 23 February 2017.
Sharing the featured role of rebellious and charismatic St Jimmy will be two Australian music legends; Chris Cheney, guitarist and lead vocalist of Australian rock band The Living End, and Phil Jamieson, the enigmatic front man for alternative rock band Grinspoon.
A line up of talented Australian musical theatre performers will also join the 13 strong cast including Ben Bennett, Cameron MacDonald, Alex Jeans, Phoebe Panaretos, Rowena Vilar, and Ashleigh Barlow. They are all ready to melt the walls of the Playhouse, QPAC when this Tony and Grammy Award winning rock musical opens, exclusive to Brisbane, in just over a month’s time.
American Idiot is the story of three boyhood friends, each searching for meaning in a post 9/11 world. The show features the music of Green Day with the lyrics of its lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong and book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer. It features every song from Green Day’s iconic album American Idiot as well as several songs from their follow-up release, 21st Century Breakdown.
The album, American Idiot, not only redefined Green Day as a band, but also gave a voice to a generation waiting for the opportunity to let their hair down, rock-out, and embrace their youth and individuality. The high-octane production captures not only the sound of the generation, but the frustrations, fears, dreams, and challenges of life in the media-saturated, post-9/11 era.
Nick Skubij, Artistic Director, shake & stir theatre co said he is thrilled to announce the amazing line up of Australian artists secured for the national premiere of Green Day’s American Idiot.
“We had over 600 people from across the nation audition for parts and believe we have on board a collection of the most authentic and talented performers,” said Skubij. “Who better to portray this electric story than actual rock stars themselves? We are stoked to have two iconic Australian band front men, Chris Cheney and Phil Jamieson, along with a hugely talented group of young musical theatre stars and an acclaimed creative team.”
Chris Cheney is the founding mainstay guitarist, songwriter and lead vocalist of the band, The Living End, which was formed in 1994. He wrote the group’s top 20 hits on the ARIA Singles Chart Second Solution / Prisoner of Society (1997), All Torn Down (1999), Pictures in the Mirror (2000), Roll On (2001), One Said to the Other (2003), What’s on Your Radio (2005), Wake Up (2006) and White Noise (2008).
At the 2009 APRA Awards, Cheney won ‘Song of the Year’ for White Noise, the single has been accredited platinum status in Australia. He has collaborated with an extraordinary array of national and international artists including Green Day – having performed with the group on stage in 2005 to play I Fought the Law.
Since forming at high school and busking the streets of Melbourne, The Living End has gone to number one, had four platinum plus albums, been awarded APRA’s Australian Song of the Year and scored six ARIA awards. They’ve played world tours, ute musters, every festival everywhere and, in 2012, a 35-night Retrospective Tour, performing their entire back catalogue in five cities – a feat that would make anyone murderous. The Living End have supported Green Day on numerous USA and Australian tours. Their 7th album SHIFT was released in 2016.
As the voice and face of Grinspoon, Phil Jamieson fronted one of the most popular Australian bands of the last two decades. An accomplished singer, songwriter and guitarist, Jamieson’s generation-defining lyrics and vocal melodies were first etched into rock fans’ DNA in 1995, when the Lismore-born quartet rode a new wave of alternative music to become the first act unearthed by national youth radio station triple j with its debut single Sickfest.
The band played over one thousand live shows, had six consecutive Top 10 debuts, and multi-platinum album sales. An incredible 17 Grinspoon songs have polled in Hottest 100 countdowns over the years, led by the much-loved Chemical Heart (#2 in 2002 and # 63 in 2013’s Hottest 100 of All Time. Grinspoon remained together for over 18 years and in total the band received 13 ARIA Award nominations.
In 2009, Phil Jamieson and Chris Cheney joined with Josh Pyke and Tim Rogers (of You Am I) to perform The Beatles’ White Album in its entirety in celebration of that album’s 40th anniversary. In 2014, the four again performed the White Album on an Australian tour, with a 17-piece orchestra.
Rising star Ben Bennett will play Johnny, the main protagonist of the story. An accomplished singer, songwriter, musician and actor, he was born in the UK and migrated with his family to Townsville in Queensland. He then moved to Sydney having received a scholarship to attend The McDonald College of Performing Arts. In 2012, Ben appeared in The Voice Australia (Nine Network) and was in Delta Goodrem’s Top 6.
Ben has since been a finalist for the Rob Guest Endowment Awards and is the recipient of the Future Prospects Award. TV appearances have included, Home and Away (Seven Network), Random & Whacky (Ambience Entertainment) and Pyramid (Nine Network).
He has performed in Carnival of Venice for Opera by Candlelight, Canberra and in 2016 he performed the National Anthem at the Rugby Union Grand Final Test Match in Sydney and made his feature film debut in the role of ‘Jay’ in Emo the Musical. Ben regularly gigs across Australia and the UK, where he has just recently recorded and released a new EP, The Wolf.
Exclusive to Brisbane from 23 February 2017, this super talented all-Australian cast is ready to rock out in the premiere season of American Idiot. Don’t miss this award winning rock musical as QPAC’s Playhouse is transformed into a grungy mosh pit. Tickets on sale now via www.qpac.com.au For more information, visit: www.americanidiotlive.com.au for details.
Image: Cameron MacDonald, Ben Bennett and Alex Jeans feature in American Idiot – photo by Dylan Evans Photography