Indiana Musical Theatre Foundation Brings American Idiot to Fort Wayne
For Indiana Musical Theatre Foundation, their upcoming production of American Idiot is an idea more than two years in the making. Indiana Musical Theatre Foundation was the natural outgrowth of Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre, a long-running community theatre organization which provides an annual outlet for the talented students in our area. Typically featuring students from northeast Indiana (and sometimes northwestern Ohio), FWSMT has staged musicals each summer for more than 25 years. Its current director, Andrew Sherman, and his mentor, Kirby Volz, expanded the mission in founding Indiana Musical Theatre Foundation which provides a stage for adults in both theatrical and cabaret performances. This mission was just about to take flight in 2020 when…well, we all know what happened.
“We had just announced our productions of Les Miserables and American Idiot when the lockdown hit,” Sherman said. “Obviously we weren’t going to be able to do those in 2020. Really, nobody but the Civic managed any productions in 2020. Then in 2021 we thought our focus should be on our high school mission which is really our bread and butter so we went ahead with Les Mis last summer. But I had found a warehouse for us to stage American Idiot in November so I had announced that on closing night of Les Mis – then the warehouse was sold so we had to postpone again.”
Determined to not postpone a third time, Sherman went about finding a venue for American Idiot which was, in his words, “set in stone.” He approached Leslie Beauchamp, president of the Arena Dinner Theatre board of directors and one of his frequent collaborators, about using Arena to stage American Idiot. The plan helps bring a younger audience to Arena, which will be turned into a traditional theatre for the production. While there will be no food service at the show, there will be a cash bar, only chairs and no tables. American Idiot also provides a different kind of show for Arena, which itself has taken some creative leaps in recent years, and a different kind of show from what Sherman has done with FWSMT.
“It’s an all 18 and over cast, no kids in it at all, although five cast members graduated last year,” Sherman said. “Some are in their mid-30s, and one is marking his return to the stage after years away. It’s a chance to let our hair down. We don’t have to watch our language and watch our mouths all the time. It’s an R-rated show which deals with issues like drug addiction and substance abuse which can be touchy subjects, but the story isn’t completely centered on that. It’s really about young adults dealing with a post-9/11 world. The show is set in 2004 and uses all of the music from the Green Day American Idiot album, and the characters are in their 20s and 30s. They’re hearing about the war, but they have no interest in playing that Uncle Sam game. They want to make their own mistakes.”
While the show takes place in the aftermath of 9/11, Sherman is quick to point out that it is not, at its core, a show about 9/11. Instead, it presents a generation faced with challenges that are unique to them, something we’ve seen again recently.
“The themes highlighted in the show at that time are equally highlighted, if not more so, in our current ‘post-COVID’ world,” Sherman said. “But that said, it’s also a show that provides an amazing time and a chance to really rock out.”
In addition to American Idiot, which opens September 22 and runs weekends through October, with the Arena Theatre performances starting at 8 p.m. each night. Also coming up for Indiana Musical Theatre Foundation, Inc. will be the Halloween cabaret, Book of Evil, an immersive, spooky production directed by Darby LeClear and the Christmas cabaret on December 16, at which the 2023 productions will be announced.
For more information about the performances (as well as upcoming auditions), visit imtfinc.com, where tickets to American Idiot can also be purchased.