Rock musical

Rock musical “American Idiot” will shutter on April 24, 2011, but not before co-writer and lyricist Billie Joe Armstrong makes his final appearances in the role of St. Jimmy.

The Green Day frontman will rejoin the musical’s cast for its final three weeks of performances, starting April 5. The final bow for “American Idiot” will come after 27 previews and 421 regular performances.

“American Idiot” started Broadway previews on March 24, 2010, and opened four weeks later on April 20.

Despite opening with largely positive critical reviews, the musical has struggled at the box office. The 1,709-seat St. James Theatre has seen audiences at just 40 or 50 percent capacity increasingly over the past year.

As sales and attendance began to slide, “American Idiot’s” one saving grace appeared to be Armstrong. On two different occasions, the musician was called on to fill the role of St. Jimmy — first with a week-long stint in October 2010, and then for another 50 performances in early 2011.

Armstrong’s initial time in the role boosted the box office gross to $1,092,334 for the week ending October 3, up from only $480,566 the previous week. “American Idiot” had an equally strong showing during the musician’s recent 2011 dates, reporting several draws above (or very near) the $1 million mark.

While the A-list cameo drove sales through the roof for the duration of his Broadway stay, ticketing and attendance dropped instantly upon Armstrong’s departure from the cast. Rock musicians Melissa Etheridge and Davey Havok (frontman for AFI) tried to take over the role in Armstrong’s absence, but their draw has not proven as strong.

Etheridge filled the role February 1-6 with the playhouse at 57 percent capacity and a $546,256 gross. Havok’s first of two weeks in the role, March 1-6, drew 51 percent capacity and a gross of just $395,275.

Besides his on-again, off-again starring role, Armstrong is credited as the musical’s co-writer and lyricist, while Green Day receives collective credit for the music. The stage form of “American Idiot” debuted with a sold-out run at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2009 before being transplanted to its new Broadway home at St. James Theatre.

After closing its Main Stem run, “American Idiot” will reportedly begin a national tour in fall 2011. A cast and touring schedule for that production are yet to be announced.

St. James Theatre is located at 246 West 44th Street in New York, NY. “American Idiot” runs about 90 minutes without intermission. Show times and ticketing details can be found on the production’s official Web site.

Box office numbers cited in this report are courtesy The Broadway League.