Green Day’s American Idiot coming to The Landis Theater
VINELAND—Green Day’s American Idiot is coming to The Landis Theater starting April 16, with nine performances through May 1.
From the theater’s website, “Green Day’s powerhouse album is brought to life in this electric-rock musical of youthful disillusion.
“The two-time Tony award-winning hit musical Green Day’s American Idiot, based on the Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album, boldly takes the American musical where it’s never gone before. This high octane show includes every song from Green Day’s album, American Idiot, as well as several songs from its follow-up release, 21st Century Breakdown.
“Johnny, Tunny and Will struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world. When the three disgruntled men flee the constraints of their hometown for the thrills of city life, their paths are quickly estranged when Tunny enters the armed forces, Will is called back home to attend to familial responsibilities, and Johnny’s attention becomes divided by a seductive love interest and a hazardous new friendship. An energy-fueled rock opera, American Idiot, features little dialogue and instead relies on the lyrics from Green Day’s groundbreaking album to execute the story line.
“American Idiot is a high-concept show with strong social messages and endless creative possibilities. It will surely add an enticing edge to any theatre’s season.”
Ray Mamrack, theater owner and director, is excited for the first stage-play of the year. Unlike the Broadway musical, which takes place post-9/11, The Landis Theater is doing a post-COVID-19 version.
“The album came out right after 9/11 and the album was a cry for help for the kids growing up in a post-9/11 world with the media controlling things, the people telling you what to do and not knowing who we’re at war with, not understanding what the government is trying to do to us and things of that nature. It’s a pretty poignant album now more than it ever was,” Mamrack said.
He said the lyrics have more meaning now than they did back when the album released in 2004.
“It’s a powerful piece and it’s some really great rock n’ roll music, and it basically tells the story of what we’ve been through in the last year. We’re not changing any music. We’re not changing any dialogue. We’re just changing the setting and the surrounding, so instead of a 9/11 world, it’s a COVID world. So people will wear masks; they won’t wear masks. They’re on cellphones all the time instead of televisions, which it was back then. We’re basically changing the props to make it more relevant today,” Mamrack said.
The theater will use big screens on either side of the stage that will light up the lyrics as they’re being sung by the actors.
“It’s a musical, so one of the lyrics is ‘sing along to the new age of paranoia,’ and we use that as part of our advertising because ‘hey come sing along to the new age of paranoia: COVID!’ When I tell you it fits, it fits like a glove. I feel like the album is almost saying, ‘hey guess what’s going to happen in about 10 years? Get ready for it,’” Mamrack said.
The theater owner brings 15 years of Broadway experience as a visual consultant, actor and performer to Vineland.
“Being in theater all my life, I felt like because of this show is the most poignant show right now to do so that’s why I chose to do it. We’re the only ones around doing it,” he said.
Along with the Green Day musical, music lovers will enjoy the tribute shows playing throughout the year, and starting July 11, they’re having a Girls Rock Weekend with Lez Zeppelin, an all-girls Led Zeppelin tribute band plus ‘80s rockers Vixen.
“We’re working on—I don’t want to say their names yet for the Saturday [July 12] show, but it’s a pretty big rock n’ roll girl, but we haven’t officially signed her yet … And what we’re going to do is proceeds from those events will go to breast cancer awareness and other organizations that promote women, so that’s going to be a lot of fun,” Mamrack said.
For musical theater lovers, the next stage show after Green Day’s American Idiot is Heathers. Then around Halloween, they’ll have a show called The Toxic Avenger: The Musical.
“The Toxic Avenger is the first superhero from New Jersey, and he defends against the toxic waste from New York and Philadelphia, so it’s a musical comedy … Then we’re finishing the year with A Christmas Story,” Mamrack said.
For safety protocols, everyone is required to wear masks within the theater, and masks can only be removed when eating and drinking. Masks and gloves are available free of charge for patrons if needed.
Other safety protocols include temperature checks before entering, hand sanitization stations, socially distanced seating, hand dryers with ultraviolet light and heat, seat sanitization before and after every show, new contactless ticket scanner system and an electronic filtration in air duct system.
On March 16, 2020, entertainment venues were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t until six months later on September 4, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy allowed theaters to reopen at 25 percent capacity or 150 people. Then on February 5, 2021, Murphy allowed indoor performance venues to operate at 35 percent capacity with a maximum of 150 people.
The Landis Theater has 700 seats, so they can only seat 150 people with the current restrictions.
“It almost put us out of business. Affected—I mean it really destroyed us. We’re still on the fence of going bankrupt or keeping going, so we’re doing our best to keep our doors open. If the governor doesn’t make a change soon, this whole theater from 1937 is going to end up being a church because I’ve had a couple offers to purchase it from churches,” Mamrack said.
Mamrack said the current restrictions are “killing their business” financially, but he’s not looking to make money.
“We’re here for economic growth, education, those things. That’s what theaters do. They bring people in, and that’s our goal. Our goal is to make this a better place. A place where people want to live. People want to come to visit. I want people to know that’s why we’re here. We’re not about making money because we haven’t made money. We’re actually—we lost. We’re millions of dollars in debt here. We’re not even close to making money. If COVID ends at some point, things would be better, but right now we’re doing our best. We haven’t given up on the community,” he said.
The Landis Theater was built in 1937 and was originally an Art-Deco style movie theater. According to Mamrack, about 11 years ago $9 million was used to refurbish the building. It wasn’t until last year before the COVID-19 pandemic that Mamrack became the current owner.
“We put in all new lights, new sound. We got an $85,000 video screen. We’re doing things that this building has never thought it was possible of doing. And the town’s excited. Everyone’s excited. We just got to get opened up fully, so we can actually make it happen,” he said.
“We’ve had more shows in the last three months than the building had in the last 11 years,” he said.
The Landis Theatre is located at 830 E. Landis Ave. For more information, visit thelandistheater.com.