Berkeley Rep Blog

August 2009

Green Day's international reach

posted by Chad Jones on Mon, Aug 31

Rick Hoskins, a former member of the Berkeley Rep's board of trustees, is spending time in Germany with his family and saw this poster in a Berlin subway station.

Green Day Berlin Here's Rick's message:

"Green Day appears to be pretty popular over here in Germany.
The kids that are my son's age all seem to know them (and I didn't!).
I saw the poster as I was coming out of the subway station at Grunewald, the mansion district of Berlin (did you see the movie Valkyrie?) and the home to many extravagant embassies."

Sounds like the perfect place for a Green Day poster.

Now if we could only get an American Idiot poster up there as well...

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Green Day talks about American Idiot

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, Aug 28

Interviewed by Access Hollywood, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool shared some thoughts on turning American Idiot into a world-premiere theatrical event at Berkeley Rep:

And while we're on the subject, here are some links to help you catch up on what the world is already saying about American Idiot:

- The San Francisco Chronicle's Pink Section cover story on American Idiot.

- The SF Bay Guardian's fall preview cover story on American Idiot.

- Rolling Stone zeroes in on the incredibly talented American Idiot cast.

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Passing Strange hits the big screen

posted by Chad Jones on Mon, Aug 24

From the stage of Berkeley Rep to the big screen, Passing Strange continues its epic journey.

After having its world premiere on Berkeley Rep’s Thrust Stage, Passing Strange, an intoxicating musical theater experience created by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, headed to The Public Theater and then to Broadway, where it won Stew a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.

AI Vassar 1 49790 The show ran for six months, and just when it looked like Passing Strange had come to the end of its road, director Spike Lee arranged to film the show. As Lee told the New York Daily News: “I am a big, big, big lover of creative genius, and when I saw Passing Strange for the first time at the Public Theater, I was swept away — the creativity, the artistry, the vision, the musicality, the humor.”

Passing Strange: The Movie – an artfully filmed version of the Broadway production – opened in New York last weekend and will launch the Sundance Channel’s first video-on-demand service on Aug. 26. The movie will then air as part of PBS’ Great Performances series in 2010.

New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott was “blown away” by the movie. “The members of the small cast, several of whom take on multiple roles, are shown in the full, sweaty glory of self-transformation. (The band, present onstage and led by Ms. Rodewald, works pretty hard too.) And as Stew, a stout man in a red shirt and a dark suit, narrates and comments on the doings and dreamings of his younger, angrier, thinner and similarly dressed self (the excellent Daniel Breaker), changes of angle and focus illuminate the emotional distance between hotheaded youth and rueful middle age.”

Scott also gave a shout-out to cast member Rebecca Naomi Jones (above right) – “terrific in these and a handful of other roles” – who returns to Berkeley Rep in the world premiere of Green Day’s American Idiot.

Lou Lemenick of the New York Post writes, “…this is one Tony-winning Broadway show that's well worth preserving and seeing.” And Christy Lemire of the Associated Press raves about the film:  “The result is so crisp and intimate, it makes you feel as if you're on stage with Stew (who narrates) and the rest of his formidable cast.

Rebecca Naomi Jones in rehearsal
American Idiot
Photo by Doug Hamilton

Here’s the official movie trailer:

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We have a winner!

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, Aug 21

This morning, we asked you to send us a 60-word email telling us why you'd like to win tickets to see Green Day live at Sacramento's Arco Arena and to the show of your choice this season at Berkeley Rep.

AI logo We received nearly 200 entries in a matter of hours, and they were all filled with a palpable passion for Green Day's music and an equally palpable excitement to see American Idiot, one of Green Day's greatest albums, become a piece of rock theatre on the stage of Berkeley Rep's Roda Theatre.

It would have been way too hard to pick a winner ourselves, so we let fate take a hand. We reached into the hopper and out came....

Aron of Berkeley!

Aron submitted her entry in "modern haiku," and in only 58 words (we set the limit at 60 words). With her kind permission, we'd like to share her fine work.

Prom night in Berkeley --
I buy lemonade from
Billie Joe's children.

The disenfranchised suburbanite
Hears American Idiot on the radio:
She knows it's her voice.

Hoping to win this contest,
I wonder how Tony winners
Might dance to rock music.

To all who entered the contest, thank you for sharing your passion. We're just sorry we can't give you all tickets!

For information about Green Day's concert at the Arco Arena on Monday, August 24, visit

For information about American Idiot at Berkeley Rep, visit

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Win tickets to a Green Day concert and a Berkeley Rep show!

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, Aug 21

Green Day 2 You can enter to win two tickets to see Green Day in concert on Monday, August 24 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento along with two tickets to see any Berkeley Rep show in our 2009-10 season, which opens with Green Day’s American Idiot September 4-October 11.

In 60 words or less, tell us why you want to see both shows and email us at

Be sure to include your contact information, and act fast: you have until 4pm today, Friday, August 21.

The winner will be selected and notified at 4:30pm today.

Monday's concert begins at 7:30pm with opening act Franz Ferdinand. For more information, click

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

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Climate control!

posted by Bert Reptile on Fri, Aug 21

From Christopher Dawe, Berkeley Rep’s facilities manager:

The air conditioning and heating system in the Thrust Stage hasn’t been updated since it was built in 1980. We were running out of chewing gum and baling wire to solve our somewhat recurring problems.  Audience members may remember occasionally experiencing heat waves and cold drafts in the Thrust – sometimes in the same act. HVAC (Heating, Venting & Air Conditioning) has come a long way since 1980, and it was time to replace our old system with something modern and more efficient. We are always aiming to make our theatre as comfortable as possible for our patrons and staff. 

HVAC (old) After working with our HVAC technician, who dreamed up an idea to use our very efficient chiller and boiler system as a central plant to cool and heat both the Thrust and the Roda, sometimes simultaneously, we came up with a game plan. We worked with our mechanical engineers to make sure we were building it correctly and that our new system would perform as expected.

Finally, we are getting to the point of fruition, and a few weeks ago we removed our old system from the roof of the Thrust (seen in photo above). The new system is being built in the old unit’s place, and all is looking good. Some changes have already occurred, like the new directional louvers we installed in the house of the Thrust late last season. This eliminated the cold down drafts that our patrons sometimes felt. With all these changes, we are expecting a decrease in energy usage of around 40% for the Thrust!

On schedule and on budget, we are aiming to have the new HVAC up and running well before Tiny Kushner gets to the Thrust in mid-October.

Photo by Christopher Dawe

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Backstage peek at American Idiot

posted by Bert Reptile on Wed, Aug 19

The American Idiot set is taking shape on the stage of the Roda Theatre, and it's pretty extraordinary. We can't show you the top-secret details just yet, but we can take you into the Roda and show you...


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Green Day -- live at last

posted by Bert Reptile on Mon, Aug 17

Green Day Vassar

With rehearsals for Green Day's American Idiot in full swing, we here at Berkeley Rep are happily immersed in the living, breathing world of Green Day on a day-to-day basis.

And almost as if on cue, here come the living, breathing members of Green Day themselves! Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool arrive in San Jose at the HP Pavilion Tuesday, Aug. 18 as part of the North American leg of their tour promoting the new record, 21st Century Breakdown.

Reviews for the concerts have been extraordinary -- you can read a selection of them on the Green Day website.

After San Jose -- the closest the band members get to their East Bay homes -- there are still a few dates left on the tour: San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. Between the end of this tour and the beginning of the international tour (launching Sep 29 in Lisbon), we expect to spot the band members attending rehearsals for American Idiot, which begins previews Sep 4 in the Roda Theatre and runs through Oct 11.

The above photo (taken by Carole Litwin) documents the last time Tré, Billie Joe, and Mike (seen with director/co-book writer Michael Mayer and arranger, orchestrator, and music supervisor Tom Kitt) dropped in on the American Idiot creative process. We imagine they'll be doing the same thing after they catch their collective breath following the final concert on Aug 25, weighing in on the incredible work Michael, the creative team, and the cast have been doing in rehearsal.

It's not every day, after all, that a classic rock album becomes a highly anticipated world-premiere piece of rock theatre. You definitely want a front-row seat for that magnitude of creative endeavor.

Tickets for American Idiot are selling fast. Visit our online box office or call 510 647-2949 today.

Photo by Carole Litwin

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Peter and Wendy flies to Scotland

posted by Bert Reptile on Thu, Aug 13

Just about anybody who saw Mabou Mines' Peter and Wendy at Berkeley Rep in February of 1999 remembers it fondly.

Featuring a storyteller (played by Karen Kandel), a team of seven white-clad puppeteers, and six musicians, the show brought J.M. Barrie's classic novel to vivid, imaginative life in ways no other adaptation of the Peter Pan story had managed.

Adapted and produced by Liza Lorwin and directed by Lee Breuer (with music by Johnny Cunningham and designs by Julie Archer), Peter and Wendy was truly enchanting.

We were thrilled to hear that Peter and Wendy -- a decade after delighting Berkeley Rep audiences -- is still going strong. The show will be part of the Edinburgh International Festival Sep 2-5 at the Royal Lyceum Theatre.

Recalling the show brings such pleasure, but if you weren't lucky enough to see the show, here's a short taste of its artistry.

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Six pics I wish I'd taken last Monday

posted by Megan Wygant on Thu, Aug 6

As you might have guessed from reading Andrew's post, last Monday —- July 27 — had been circled in red on the company management calendar for the past two months. If you're just joining us here, last Monday was the day that the American Idiot team — 19 actors, two understudies, and countless designers and design assistants — would arrive in the Bay Area for the first time.

When the marketing department learned we’d be picking about 30 people up from Oakland Airport on Monday, they asked if we’d take photos to share with the blog. We couldn’t do that for a lot of reasons, among them being that our hands were filled with bags and contracts and keys (I'd like to pause for a second to give a shout-out to John Gay, Andrew Susskind, Bok Choy, and Johnny Van Chang for becoming honorary members of company management for the day — accomplishing the airport pickups as easily as we did was definitely a team effort). We also figured that no one wanted their photo taken after flying for six hours. In coach. Especially when you had to be at your first airport at 7am, East Coast time.

Still, I wish I had taken pictures, if only because it was a really neat day. So, here are the captions of six photos I would go back and take, if only I had access to a time machine.

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