Perhaps the biggest standing ovation given by Paramount Theater audiences all week at SXSW was when Green Day took the stage Friday alongside director Doug Hamilton to present the world premiere of the documentary Broadway Idiot. Bassist Mike Dirnt did the talking for the group, thanking the audience for coming to the show. “Welcome to our nightmare,” he said happily, before handing off the microphone to lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. The crowd held their breath for a half second, waiting to hear him speak, but instead he tossed the mic to a festival director and the band made themselves scarce.
Broadway Idiot is a snappy, big-hearted portrait, four years in the making, of transforming the guts and tunes of Green Day’s seminal album American Idiot into the Broadway musical that ran from April 20, 2010 through April 24, 2011. “This album is my baby,” says Armstrong in the film, “I want to make sure no one f—- it up.” In the early planning stages the band brings a visible anxiety to conversations with Broadway director Michael Mayer, unsure what world they’ve gotten themselves into and ready to bolt. Armstrong’s fears of Broadway are all jazz hands and high kicks. “Everyone’s singin’ and dancin’ and life is swell,” he says. “Like the Rockettes and stuff.” But their sense of hesitation soon blooms into intrigue and then passion, as Armstrong decides to join the production as one of the main characters. “I can’t act, I can’t dance,” he worries. “Compared to a lot of these people I can’t even sing.”
Broadway Idiot kicked off a double feature of Green Day docs, followed by Cuatro!, about the making of their recent music trilogy Green Day ¡Uno! Green Day ¡Dos! Green Day ¡Tré!. Green Day performs tonight at ACL Live.