CEDAR RAPIDS -- "American Idiot" generates enough electricity to power a small town. Maybe even a big town. This big-time punk-rock opera brings Green Day's 2004 concept album out of the ether and into the veins of 1,072 people who experienced it Sunday night (1/26/14) at the Paramount Theatre. Twenty 20-somethings spend 95 minutes gyrating and stomping and belting and bowing to the angst they breathe stepping out of sequestered suburbia and into adulthood. The music is spectacular, from the full-out anthems to the lovely, quiet ballads that run the depth and breadth and heights their souls can reach. So much of it is poetic and balletic, yet can change in a jarring instant. It's a gutsy, profane downward spiral as harsh realities shatter the dreams of three boyhood pals ready to spring from their boring lives into the bright lights of the big city. Will's bag is packed, but he backs out at the last minute when he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant. Johnny and Tunny continue their search for a new world of neon lights. Once they get there, Tunny joins the military and heads into battle, leaving Johnny to fight all his battles alone. Enter St. Jimmy, a messianic horror who preaches the culture of drugs to the vulnerable young people enraptured by his light. Johnny finds a home among the lost souls, including his new girlfriend, Whatsername. All three story lines play out against a backdrop of moveable scaffolding and nearly 30 televisions mounted on the theater's back wall, creating the perfect deconstructed, edgy atmosphere for the action, and especially for the visceral choreography. Staccato lighting, ever-changing images on the TV screens and crystal-clear sound assault the senses at every turn, drawing the audience into the action in a hypnotic, guttural way. Every actor onstage is fantastic, from the leads to the ensemble members. The songs and storylines flow seamlessly, with very spare spoken dialogue. The strength of the songs fuels the strength of the show. And after basking in an instant standing ovation and cheers, each cast member came back with an acoustic guitar to sing Green Day's biggest hit, "(I hope you’ve had the) Time of Your Life." We did. RELATED STORY: http://hooplanow.com/2014/01/22/american-idiot-at-the-paramount/#axzz2rZEnjXnS