PEMBROKE — Hendersonville native Turner Rouse Jr. may have left North Carolina as a musical theatre major, but after 400 shows with the “American Idiot” tour, he is returning a rock star.
Rouse Jr., who is 22, is serving in his second year as ensemble member with the touring production of the hit Broadway musical “American Idiot,” which is coming to the Givens Performing Arts Center on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke on April 15.
The show is a stage adaptation of popular California punk rock band Green Day’s 2004 concept album of the same name, and follows the interlocking stories of three boyhood friends growing up in a post 9/11 world.
The show features the songs “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “21 Guns,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Holiday” and the title track “ American Idiot ” as well as songs from Green Day’s 2009 release “21st Century Breakdown,” and an unreleased love song, “When It’s Time.”
Rouse Jr., who also serves as understudy for the character of Will, never considered himself much of a punk-rock fan growing up, but says that after two years of touring, he now officially considers himself a fanatic for at least one particular rock band.
“It definitely opened my eyes to the beauty of their songwriting,” Rouse Jr. said. “Growing up, I was of course a fan of their music, like everyone my age, but I have really become an obsessive Green Day fan since joining the cast.”
Because of strong language, depiction of drug use and overtly politically tinged story, Rouse Jr. says that some of the shows performed in the more conservative states, such as Texas, have had some audience members rubbed the wrong way, and even a number of walk-outs; however, he feels that the show wouldn’t be in keeping with the intended punk-rock feel if it didn’t ruffle a few feathers.
“It depends, we will have a lot of houses where it is mostly subscriber ticket buyers, those are harder for us to maintain because those audience members are not sure what they are getting into,” Rouse Jr. said. “But sometimes those are our best audiences. This show kind of fuses theatre-goers and punk-rock fans. It sort of fuses that gap between a musical theatre production and a rock concert.”
A graduate of Elon University, Rouse Jr. is hoping that North Carolina’s more conservative theater lovers will give the show a chance before judging it.
“You have to come with an open mind,” Rouse Jr. said. “Obviously, when we’re out there ranting and holding our middle finger up, we are playing characters, we aren’t saying “F you” to the man, we are playing characters. It is interesting, we will have houses with a lot of walkouts during the show and we respect that, and at that point we know we’re doing our jobs right by turning heads and creating an emotional response. How punk is that?”
James Johnson may be reached at 910-272-6144 or on Twitter @JJohnsonRobeson.