ACTOR: Jamal Shuriah
SEPTEMBER 11th 2001 will forever be a significant date in US history. It was the day a series of terrorist attacks were launched on America, resulting in the loss of 2,753 lives.
Eleven years later, and a punk rock opera about three miserable teenage rebels struggling to find a cause in a post 9/11 town is being shown in the UK. American Idiot is a staged adaptation of the 2004 Green Day album, co-written by band member Billie Joe Armstrong.
Starring in the musical is 24-year-old Jamal Shuriah, he was 12-years-old when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Although he didn’t personally suffer any loss surrounding the event, it still affected him and his class mates.
Since its Broadway debut in 2010, the show has been hit with controversy sounding whether the band had ‘gone soft’ in the musical department. It has also been criticised for its depiction of a war veteran’s physical loss. Hoping the audience will take away the positives messages of American Idiot, Shuriah said that the show means no harm.
The production has seen some controversy; can you explain why?
Firstly, I want to say there are a lot of positives in the play, but some people tend to walk out in the first number because they get offended by certain facts that come up.
I feel that people should stick around and try to get the full understanding of the show because it’s not intended to hurt anyone by any means. I know veterans have walked out but I’m not really sure why because I’m on stage at the time when it happens.
Is 9/11 still a sore subject for America?
Certainly! I was in the eighth grade and a lot of my friends, their parents worked in New York City. School was shut down for that day and a lot of my friends were hit by the attacks, it affected me because I felt for them and didn’t know what I could do for them. I still can’t go to ground zero, even though I haven’t lost anyone.
What response have you been getting from Green Day fans?
They love the show; they understand the message and what we are trying to do. They come for the experience, because the show is so impactful and full of energy and the message is very strong.
It’s kids who want to break out and start over and break away from the media that has been so disruptful to our society as a whole.
Sometimes people are blocked by the current affairs on TV and don’t get the full understanding of life. We are trying to say that people should venture out on their own.
You are coming from working on a Disney cruise boat where you performed as Simba for two years, how does this differ?
This show is definitively no Lion King, it wasn’t something I imagined doing but being a huge Green Day fan, it sparked my interest. And when my agent was contacted to send me an audition request and I sent in a video and got a call back, right after that I the ship.
Who has inspired you the most in your career?
My dad. He came to the states from Jamaica when he was 18 and has been the hardest worker I have come across - he’s a superintendent for a condominium and he does odd jobs.
As a hard working Jamaican man, how did he take your career choice of wanting to be an actor?
I would say my dad wasn’t entirely thrilled with it. I started acting when I was in the fourth grade, but my dad wanted me to go into mechanical engineering - nothing to do with entertainment. But he’s happy and proud as long as I’m successful, happy and making funds for myself and not asking him for money.
American Idiot will be at the Hammersmith Apollo until December 16. For more information visit, www.americanidiotthemusical.co.uk