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'American Idiot' planned for UB stage

"American Idiot," the rock-driven musical and Green Day vehicle that opened to enthusiastic reviews on Broadway in 2010, comes to the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts for a two-day run on Sept. 8 and 9.

The show, an outgrowth of Green Day's 2004 album of the same name, is a breathless one-act propelled by Green Day's addictive riffs and a message that melds teen angst with American politics. The show features Green Day hits like "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "American Idiot," "Wake Me Up When September Ends" and a number of lesser-known songs by the punk band.

Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong co-wrote the show's book with Michael Mayer, who also directed. Mayer won a Tony Award for his direction of the similarly angsty and rock-propelled show "Spring Awakening," which played at the CFA last spring.

The Center for the Arts has built a reputation in recent years for bringing edgier Broadway musicals to Western New York that local audiences might not otherwise see. This was the case with the CFA's presentation of "Spring Awakening," a show that the somewhat more conservative Shea's Performing Arts Center decided against. (Though Shea's, it is worth noting, was the first to bring the risque musical "Avenue Q" in 2008 and has booked the extremely raunchy "The Book of Mormon" for its next season.)

Dave Wedekindt, the CFA's marketing director, said the show was a perfect match for the venue and for the student demographic to which it will appeal.

"We look at the options that are available and understand that Shea's, in this market, is going to have first dibs on anything that's coming through," Wedekindt said. "This became available, and when we learned that Shea's chose not to present it, we felt this was an ideal fit for us."

The two-day run of this non-Equity tour, he added, also provides a coveted educational opportunity for UB theater students to get some hands-on experience with the behind-the-scenes aspects of a major touring production.

"We do try to use students backstage when we can," Wedekindt said, "so it's a learning experience, in addition to a programming initiative."

Tickets are $47 to $67 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through the box office, Ticketmaster and charge by phone at (800) 745-3000. More information is available at 645-2787 or www.ubcfa.org.

email: cdabkowski@buffnews.com