Although the “American Idiot” National Tour won’t be stopping in State College this year, Penn State’s influence will still be present in the musical itself.
Beginning just after her graduation from Penn State in 2012, Alison Morooney, joined the cast of the second national tour and first international tour of “American Idiot,” which has already taken her through over 100 performances all across the United Kingdom.
Now in the U.S. leg of the tour, the musical makes its way through Pittsburgh this week, premiering today at Heinz Hall and running until Feb. 24.
Communications coordinator of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Diana Roth said via press release that Student Rush tickets could be purchased for the Pittsburgh dates in person. The seats are situated in the first three rows of Heinz Hall and can be bought in bundles of up to four at $28.25 per ticket.
The “American Idiot” musical stays true to the original politically-charged concept album of the same name, telling the tale of three teens growing up in the broken homes of the suburban United States.
Award-winning Broadway theater director Michael Mayer got Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong on board with creating the musical out of his 2004 album, “American Idiot.” The musical has since been on Broadway.
Originally from State College, Morooney said she auditioned for “American Idiot” in spring of 2012 when it came to Eisenhower Auditorium and was invited onto the cast as Female Swing and Dance Captain before she even graduated.
“It was my goal, and it’s just kind of crazy that it happened,” she said.
She started rehearsing for the show in August 2012, just after earning a BFA in Musical Theatre, and went on tour in October.
For the punk rock roots of the album to translate into theater, she said that the show has adapted from what is customary in order to keep true to what the album wanted to say.
“The choreography is very aggressive. Some of it looks like a mosh pit at a punk rock concert,” she said. “We used stylistic elements like that to keep it ‘punk rock,’ and our costumes are certainly very nontraditional.”
Morooney said that while the U.K. leg of the trip included a lot of fun sightseeing, it was good to be touring small towns in the U.S., to which the American Idiot concept album was dedicated.
Morooney said that she uses what she learned at Penn State every day on the American Idiot tour.
“I was able to take a lot of leadership positions in the School of Theatre when I was at school, and that has really helped me with the dance captain position as far as trying to lead a group and trying to keep a show together,” she said.
She added that she had all of her dance professors to thank for what she knows.
“I wear out the cast every day, and I have to say thank you to my dance professors for really teaching me to understand the body and what it needs, how to stretch it and how to adequately warm up,” she said.
Michele Dunleavy, an associate professor of dance and former instructor to Morooney, said that Morooney came into the School of Theatre with a lot of training already under her belt.
“She was one of those students that continued to work hard even though she was already at a pretty high skill level,” she said. “She’s always been just an absolute go-getter, which made her an absolute joy to teach.”
Dunleavy said that the work they did together in “Rent” during Morooney’s junior year prepared her in a sense to perform in a less traditional show like American Idiot.
“She’s such a great performer. She’s so committed and so intense, and it would be really thrilling to see her perform it,” she said.
American Idiot will also be in Hershey in March, where Morooney said she is hoping to see many of her Penn State friends and family while she performs.