Green Day Was Influenced By Ethel Merman!

Cruising for surreal NYC Housewives. Plus, high and low fashion, plus some new and old-fashioned on Broadway.

Butz himself is a Tony winner who successfully replaced Jeremy Piven in Speed-the-Plow, to name just one strange and fascinating credit. At the event, the New York Post's Barbara Hoffman congratulated Butz on his achievement, and he smilingly replied, "I've gotten too much credit for that. I just needed a fucking job. I was like, 'How much are you paying?' "

The anti–Megan Mullally, he obviously hasn't abandoned that philosophy. As I left, Butz was turning to Prebble and urging her, "Write a musical! I want to tap dance!"

No segue needed for Come Fly Away, Twyla Tharp's swinging homage to Sinatra, which is an elaborate floor show, with lots of dancers flinging each other around a nightclub setting as we hear Frank's glorious vocals from beyond the final curtain. There's plenty of vigorous movement—especially by Karine Plantadit, who veritably flies—set to lovely sounds, but the net effect feels a little pointless even when en pointe, and there's one too many times when a guy lifts a girl and she gleefully spreads her legs as if flashing for the neighborhood. (Still, Frank probably would have loved that—as well as the obligatory gay panic moment.)

I always get nervous when Broadway musicals do "alienated youth," but Green Day's American Idiot has the cred, and at a press event last week, the title song rocked, the cast musically fuming around a giant loft set studded with "idiot boxes" and tuneful angst.

After the performance, the band's Billie Joe Armstrong emerged to explain the show's Dubya-era impetus: "You're being bombarded with information and a lot of it is lies, and you're trying to find your truth to the whole thing, with your individualism not getting lost." It's Enron, but with more music.

Armstrong certainly tried to find the truth behind Broadway-type stylings before attempting this Idiot. He admitted that for research, he listened to West Side Story, "and I even downloaded some things Ethel Merman sang or something." That's perfect! I can just hear the Merm belting, "Don't want to be an American idiot!"

By the way, pardon me if this column smelled. It's detoxing.

musto@villagevoice.com

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