Just off her success for McLean High School with Big Fish, which rose to local and national prominence, Director Amy E. Poe is leading a cast of young adults in American Idiot.
The rock musical features the music of Green Day and will run July 23-26, 2015, at 1st Stage in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. It is a DC-area premiere save for the touring Broadway production at National Theatre in the District in 2014. Directed by Bethesda native Michael Mayer, the Broadway show won two Tony Awards in 2010 for scenic and lighting design.
Poe is a creative genius who has an eye for magical staging and an inspiring way with young actors, singers, dancers, musicians, artists and theater technicians. She recently resigned after five years as the theater teacher and director at McLean High School, citing irreconcilable artistic differences with Fairfax County Public Schools.
Poe’s final show for the school, Big Fish, won five Cappies (Critics and Awards Program of the National Capital Area) awards, including the coveted Best Musical, on June 7, and on June 25 was a top-seeded performance at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska, where a critic called it “flawless.” It was the first time in 15 years a show from a DC, Maryland or Virginia school was selected to perform on the main stage at the festival. Nearly 4,000 appreciative high school drama students and teachers saw the show, which starred McLean high school graduate Alex Stone.
Poe, who married Texas businessman and rock drummer Dan Voehse on July 4, is now back in town for one final month to bring Green Day’s powerhouse album to life in American Idiot, a gritty tale of youthful angst.
With lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong, the performance-based rock opera is based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album. The high-energy show includes every song from the concept album American Idiot, as well as several from the follow-up 21st Century Breakdown. Both were composed by vocalist/guitarist Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool, who hail from the Berkeley punk underground scene. The song “Know Your Enemy” was the first to top Billboard’s rock, alternative, and mainstream rock charts at the same time. It is featured prominently in the musical.
Woven neatly into the plot are the characters of Johnny, Tunny and Will, who were created by Mayer, based on his interpretation of Armstrong’s lyrics. The three disenchanted young men struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world by fleeing the constraints of their boring suburban hometown for the excitement of city life. But their paths diverge when Tunny enters the armed services, Will chooses to stay with family, and Johnny is entranced by love and drugs, which are represented by the characters Whatsername and St. Jimmy.
Poe started Little Butterfly Theatre Company in 2014 after the high school administration refused to let her stage the musical Spring Awakening due to parental outcry over perceived mature content. But Poe says young people often deal with unwanted pregnancy, drugs and suicide and that the performances initiate a useful dialog. In her community staging of Spring Awakening in 2014, she intentionally cast students from two public schools that had experienced multiple suicides.
Poe, 32, will continue to direct the nonprofit Little Butterfly Theatre Company in Dallas, where she will live in the Arts District with Voehse.
“Little Butterfly is a place where young adults can create new and relevant theatre, challenge social norms, stretch the limits of the theatrical art form and make innovative theatre for modern audiences,” she said. Previous credits also include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (2015).
1st Stage, located between the Silver Line and the Dulles Toll Road at 1524 Spring Hill Rd, McLean, Va., is the creation of a group of teachers, artists and actors in Fairfax County who wanted to bring professional theatre to Tysons Corner and give local artists an opportunity to grow in their careers. Tickets to American Idiot may be purchased here: www.littlebutterflytheatrecompany.com.
Director: Amy E. Poe
Musical Director: Walter “Bobby” McCoy, 1st Stage
Technical Director: Aaron Fensterheim, 1st Stage
Stage Manager: Breezy Johnson, Senior, McLean High School
Choreographer: Marielle Burt, Freshman, Brown University
Production Manager: Kim Johnson, LBTC
Johnny: Ben Ribler, Junior, George Mason University
Tunny: Jack Posey, Senior, McLean High School
Will: Carlos Castillo, Freshman, Rider University
St. Jimmy: Ben Peter, Sophomore, George Mason University
Favorite Son, Joshua: Levi Meerovich, Freshman, Virginia Commonwealth University
Whatsername: Nicole Sheehan, Senior, McLean High School
Heather: Lily Lord, Freshman, Boston Conservatory
Extraordinary Girl: Marielle Burt, Freshman, Brown University
Nikki Amico, Freshman, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
Marcia Cunning, Freshman, Virginia Commonwealth University
Emma Gold, Freshman, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
Leo Grandinetti, Freshman, Columbia College
Jamie Green, Sophomore, Marymount Manhattan College
Abby Huston, Freshman, Virginia Commonwealth University
Christophe Jelinski, Senior, McLean High School
Tyler King, Senior, Lake Braddock Secondary School
Erik McIntosh, Senior, Oakton High School
Kathy Oh, Sophomore, Virginia Commonwealth University
Kyra Smith, Freshman, Point Park University
Ben French, Freshman, DePaul University
Joe Miller, Freshman, George Mason University
Ian Jacknow, Freshman, McLean High School
Jared Jacknow, Junior, McLean High School
Max Speil, Freshman, Case Western Reserve University
Kim Allen-Mills, LBTC
Juliana Cofrancesco, LBTC
Yvonne French, LBTC
Ellie Hall, Sophomore, McLean High School
Camille Richter, Sophomore, McLean High School
Lisa Richter, LBTC
Sydney Studds, LBTC
Gillian Wright, Senior, McLean High School
Make-up and Hair
Sydney Studds, LBTC
Camille Calderon, Freshman, Emerson University
Havi Carrillo-Klein, Sophomore, McLean High School
Kate Callahan, Freshman, George Mason University
Riki Kim, Synetic Theatre