By Maggie Andresen
After Green Day’s stage adaptation of their hit album “American Idiot” was so successfully received, the band’s front man once again sets his sights on the stage. Armstrong will be co-writing the music for a rock version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, titled “These Paper Bullets.” Set to premiere at the Yale Repertory Theater in New Haven, Connecticut in the 2014 show season, the play adapted by Rolin Jones will depict the struggle of a Liverpool band struggling in the London music industry, and their befuddled romantic endeavors.
“Can these fab four from Liverpool find true love in London and cut an album in seven nights? These Paper Bullets is a rocking and rolling version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing with a serious backbeat,” Yale Rep said of the coming show.
Much Ado’s leading male roles Benedick, Claudio, Don Pedro and Don John have been replaced by Ben, Claude, Balth, and Pedro in “These Paper Bullets.” The play revolves around the band members’ quest to expediently write an album and find true love; while simultaneously dealing with a mutinously malicious former drummer amidst starry eyed fans.
If Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ on Broadway is any indication of Armstrong’s stage writing ability, then this varnished, modern rendition of Much Ado should be highly anticipated.
Taking rock and roll back to the Shakespearian era may require a bit more Lennon and McCartney influence than Vicious and Rotten. No prejudice to the kings of punk, but the Yale Repertory Theater may prefer their modern adaptation to retain a milder level of English cadence than the ‘bollocks to authority’ approach.
Armstrong’s opportunity to write the songs for “These Paper Bullets” comes at a perfect time in his career; his recent stint in rehab for substance abuse has given Armstrong time to reflect on important project decisions. His onstage meltdown during the iHeart Music Festival in Los Angeles three years ago derailed the band’s album release and concert plans.
“I didn’t realize how destructive I was,” the band’s front man commented on his addiction. “I thought everybody was in on the joke. But I was the joke.”
Green Day’s concert delay subsided with Armstrong’s recovery, and to the joy of fans everywhere the band will resume touring March 28th. The trio’s recently released album trilogy, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tré! is the focus of Green Day’s current tour, with some variation based on their previous albums.
Writing for Yale Rep and preparing for Green Day’s tour has Armstrong’s musical future looks bright, though he concedes the road ahead will not be easy.
“Sometimes I’m not sure I’m ready,” he admits. “I have to work on it every day.”