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'American Idiot' comes to the Boston Opera House

Jules Becker | 1/10/2012, 6:15 p.m.
Gabrielle McClinton (Whatserame) and Van Hughes (Johnny) in “American Idiot.” Doug Hamilton

While McClinton admires her character, she is quick to admit that she was not always a fan of Green Day, the punk rock band behind the show. Green Day’s hard-driving score came together with the show’s Billie Joe Armstrong, the group’s lead singer-songwriter, and Michael Mayer, the show’s director.

“I was never really into that punk rock stuff,” she admitted. “But I really love their music now. I love that their music has such a story.”

“American Idiot’s” musical odyssey was very appealing in its original Broadway run. That story involves the decision by three buddies circa 2004 — Whatsername’s Johnny and two friends named Will and Tunny — to escape from a materialistic suburbia and restrictive parents.

Couch potato Will has a pregnant girlfriend named Heather, and Tunny heads to war. Eventually Heather leaves Will, but a wounded Tunny meets a loving nurse named Extraordinary Girl who changes his life.

Throughout “American Idiot,” the Green Day score champions free thinking and individuality in the face of a government and a  media telling Americans what to believe, do and buy. Christine Jones’ highly detailed and backdrop-rich scenic design and Kevin Adams’ lighting were very deserving Tony Award winners. Director Michael Mayers, curiously left out of the Tony running, does an amazing job keeping the three focal story lines clear and distinct. The Green Day musical’s message of independent thinking was thumpingly alive and wonderfully immediate.

 McClinton sees herself like Whatsername in terms of that independence.

“I’m on my own for the first time,” she said.

The rest of her character is very foreign but challenging as an actress. “I’ve never done heroin and I’ve never had to deal with a drug addict [Johnny]. That’s new territory. It’s been exciting to dig down deep and see how somebody would deal with that,” she concluded.

She noted that the tour began with a two-week stint in Toronto and is slated to last seven months. McClinton has friends in Boston, and the Equity actress hopes to see them while at the Opera House. Planning to return to New York after the tour, she offered that she might try looking for shows in Boston  as well.

“I’ll definitely scope that out,” she said.