SAN JOSÉ, CA – “Jesus of Suburbia” as the character of Johnny is nicknamed in the Punk Green Day’s "AMERICAN IDIOT" musical, is a fun role to play, says ALEX NEE (pronounced Knee) who will be playing it from Tuesday, June 4th through June 9 at the S.J. Center of the Performing Arts, as part of the 2012-2013 Season of Broadway San José. to CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL.
“It is one of the most fun roles I ever had.” He adds. “There is lots of power inherited in this role and I can do everything I want on stage. I can follow all my impulses, yell at the audience, or tell people to screw off and raise my finger. That’s my job. That’s what people like about this character. So it is fun to be sort of a “self titled” martyr because he has a lot of power in that.”
We ask the star of Green Day’s AMERICAN IDIOT, How does he define the show?
A.N. “It is a punk rock coming-of-age story that deals with three young guys who are trying to grow up in post 9/11 America, and some of the problems that they encounter, the loves that they find. But mainly the show is about growing up and finding what it is important to you, and where your own voice lies.”
C.W.B. As an actor, what attracted to about the musical?
A.N. “It is quite a challenging show. There is no dialogue, it is completely sung through so there is just music for the most part, with some monologue, so to develop a character with sound and lyrics is a challenge, but a fun one.
The music is such fun to sing every night. I also think that what is so beautiful about the show is that it is sort of abstract and that many can sort of see themselves in the show. Another interesting part is the choreography that we get to do. The dances are very unique to the show. They are all based on punk shows, Marshall Arts and fighting sounds so they are punchy, energetic and exciting.
C.W.B. What are the challenges of an actor playing your character?
A.N. “In the show, Johnny is an antihero, which is one of the challenges in the role. My first line in the show is I jerked off into oblivion last night.” which is not the most sympathetic way to win over an audience. People just don’t go: That’s a guy I could get behind. So, to get to the point from there to where the audience is rooting for you, is a challenge, because the audience, knows that you are such a messed up, loud, angry, rude guy.
C.W.B. What are his characteristics?
A.N. Johnny is very very passionate, but I think he does not know where to direct that passion. I think of him as sort type of a revel, searching for a cause. He is young, and he gets lost very easily. He gets attracted by many things, among them girls and drugs and partying and rock-n’ roll. He succumbs to that and he really digs himself into a deep hole of addiction and depression and pushes everyone away from him. Luckily, he brakes out from that and tries to get himself out of it, reaches out to his friends and gets back home. But I think the most important thing about him is that he is just a young guy who is trying very hard to find his own voice but is very confused at the same time.”
C.W.B. As an actor, how did you prepare for the role?
A.N. I am the same age as my character, which is quite helpful, because I can draw a lot from my own experiences. When at the beginning of the show Johnny says that he is going to go to the Big city and find his dream, I felt that, when I was out of school, it was the dawning or the rest of my life. I believed that everything was possible. So for that side of my character, I sort of use my own life.”
“ For the sort of darker, more problematic and twisted side of my character, I try to withdraw on the music which conveys sort of his rage and convey it with my body. I also rely a lot on my choreographer, STEVEN HOGGETT, and his wonderful choreography that is so visual and I feel so connected to. That determines many of the emotional choices I am making. Helping me inhabit the emotions that my character is going to.”
C.W.B. What’s your favorite song and why?
A.N. “It changed. At first is was “Holiday” at the beginning, and it is me wanting to have a blast. That was a lot of fun for me. Now it sort of transitions to "Whatsername” a very quiet reflective song that closes the show very nicely and I get a chance to reflect in everything I am going through. There is a big rush at the end, and when I hear the song, this very epic driving thing, I just I sit there banging my head over and over. That final release of everything I had in my body is always satisfying. It is very hard to do it but always very satisfying. It feels good, I feel as if I had accomplished something.”
C.W.B. What is Theatre for you?
A.N. Theatre is a chance for people to connect (with each other) in an unreal level. I think that everybody who sees the show will have a communal catharsis, and through that, feel closer to the stranger sitting away from them. I think that (theatre) is extremely important to have around because it holds a mirror to society. Some times, it could show our flaws, but also the beauty that is there in life. Theatre is sort of a ritual, which we have done for thousands of years, that somehow reminds ourselves that we are human, and we are flawed and we are beautiful and we are here, surrounded by other beautiful flawed human beings. “
ALEX NEE (Johnny) who is on his first tour, is a local actor. He was born in San Francisco and started acting while studying in Addison Elementary School in Palo Alto. He is a senior (on leave) at Northwestern University. Recent credits include Spring Awakening (Melchior) Rent (Roger) and Who’s Tommy (Hawker).