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Green Day's Secret Love Affair With Broadway

Broadway screams jazz hands more so than head-bangs. Now, the pop-punk trio Green Day is out to change that.

Yes, Green Day — the dudes who brought upbeat three-chord riffs to bored suburban teenagers in the classic '90s record Dookie. The Great White Way seems like an unexpected career path for the self-proclaimed punk band. But in the age of the jukebox musical, anything goes. Their 2004 album inspired the new show American Idiot, now playing at the St. James Theater.

Turns out Broadway has always been a twinkle in Green Day’s bloodshot little eye. A little riffing made it happen.

"We wrote a song called American Idiot and a song called Homecoming,” lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong tells WNYC. "Then we thought, 'wouldn’t this be great one day if it was actually staged.' Then, one day Michael Mayer showed up."

Mayer, the Tony-Award winning director of Spring Awakening, got hooked on the record by listening to it "kind of obsessively" in his car. "I started to imagine that it could actually communicate a story," says the director.

The 90-minute music-heavy show follows three small-town guys facing tough life-altering challenges: one joins the military, one battles drug addiction and the other deals with an unplanned pregancy.

Armstrong says he's happy with the stage version. It’s still rock-and-roll to him.

"I think it maintains the Green Day spirit," says Armstrong.

Director Michael Mayer urges hardcore fans and hardcore thespians to keep an open-mind. “I hope that they’re not afraid of the idea that it’s a musical. In the same way that I hope people who are Broadway musical lovers aren't afraid of Green Day.”

"We're willing to try anything twice, whether that's LSD or going to Broadway," says Armstrong. "Maybe both at the same time would be an amazing experience."

The show officially opens on 4/20 — go figure.