American Idiot, the high-octane rock musical based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album, has finally made its way Down Under.
Developed by Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, and Tony Award winner Michael Mayer, American Idiot captures the sound of a generation and the frustrations, fears, dreams and challenges of life in the media-saturated post-9/11 era.
The musical will open at QPAC this Thursday; we caught up with actress Ashleigh Barlow, who plays Heather, to find out what it’s really like to perform in American Idiot.
So who is Heather in American Idiot?
You meet Heather very early in the show. She is pregnant and unsure about what lies ahead. She is a lover, a fighter and a protector.
What is your favourite part about playing her?
I love the transformation Heather goes through. She finds a lot of strength as the show progresses. That is really fun to explore.
How does performing in American Idiot differ from anything you’ve done before?
American Idiot is not your average musical full of show tunes – it’s Green Day. I think because we are singing through such an iconic album the show feels familiar to you even if you’ve never seen a musical in your life. You’re comfortable right away.
How would you describe the American Idiot musical?
Passionate, chaotic and ugly.
What do you love about taking to the stage?
I love that my job is ever-changing. There are always new cast members to work with, new characters to bring to life and new worlds to explore.
FIVE MINUTES WITH Ashleigh Barlow:
My god-daughter calls me Tinkerbell.
What is your favourite Green Day song and album?
My favourite album is definitely American Idiot. Favourite song… it’s tough but I’d have to go with Letterbomb.
Your happy place?
In a theatre, either watching a show or performing in one!
What does a day in the life of Ashleigh look like?
I don’t think there is an average day – I’m always off doing something different! But I guess most days include a yoga session, hanging out with my dogs and teaching kids at my vocal studio in Sydney and if I’m in a show, evenings at the theatre!
What can you not live without?
My friends and family!
When and how do you unwind from performing?
On my day off I’m all about staying in my pyjamas and watching Will & Grace re-runs.
What advice do you have for others looking to crack the industry?
Keep training, take classes and audition for everything. It’s also important to surround yourself with people who will support you. This industry is tough – you will need help!
Who do you love following on Insta?
What would be your dream app?
An app that translates what my dog is saying into English.
If you had private plane waiting, where would you go?
New York, baby.
Your secret beauty weapon is…
Water and sleep!
You like to break a sweat with…
Your all-time fave theatre production is…
Wicked! I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen the show.
A great lunch is…
I love a good smashed avocado dish or an acai bowl with a long black!
Favourite place to visit in Brisbane?
I haven’t had much time to explore as we have been in rehearsal most days, but I’m loving some of the local cafés, Miss Bliss and Plenty in particular. Any suggestions of places to visit are welcomed!
What was the last thing you purchased as a treat to yourself?
I celebrated booking American Idiot by buying some new rehearsal clothes. How very practical of me!
My party trick is…
I throw a damn good party.
When I was little I wanted to be…
Best advice you’ve given/received?
Make time for your family and friends; your success means very little if you have no one to share it with.
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