(Photo by Casey Long)
Written by Daniella Litvak
Transformation is one of the many themes Hedwig and the Angry Inch (hereinafter referred to as Hedwig) explores. Fittingly, the creation of Hedwig also involved several transformations. Creators John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask first performed it in punk clubs. Then, it became an Off-Broadway show in 1998, which led to a film adaptation. Then, in 2014, came the Broadway “revival,” which won four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Leading Actor for Neil Patrick Harris. Now it’s at Chance Theater.
Song stylist Hedwig Schmidt (Tom Avery) plays at a rundown club with her band, The Angry Inch. As the night goes on, Hedwig spills her life story to the audience through monologues and songs. Born a boy and raised in East Berlin, Hedwig (birth name Hansel) loved western rock music and desperately wanted to travel beyond the Berlin Wall to search for her “other half.” A sweet-talking American G.I. seduces Hansel into dressing in drag and undergoing a sex-change operation so they can live as a married couple in the U.S. The operation went wrong – leaving Hedwig with an angry inch instead of a vagina – but an “internationally ignored” rock ‘n’ roll goddess was born.
Come familiar with the story because the storyline can be hard to follow at times. In spite of that, Hedwig is as explosive and expressive as its title character. It’s philosophical and raunchy, political and spiritual, an ode to the past and forever timeless. You laugh, and you cry.
The show features a lot of great, genuinely rocking songs. I’ve listened to the original Broadway cast recording of Hedwig before seeing it at Chance Theatre. A lot of songs make for good standalone listening. There are also songs like “Wig In A Box” and “Exquisite Corpse” that are even better when you see them performed within the show. “Sugar Daddy” surprised me because it’s a punk rock song in the original Broadway cast recording, but I’ve since discovered it was originally a country music song. Chance utilizes the country version. While I prefer the punk version for a standalone listening, the country version makes more sense within the context of the show and gives Music Director Lex Leigh, who also plays Angry Inch member Skszp, the opportunity to pull out a fiddle.
Hedwig is a demanding role. Avery performs it well. He is at his best when Hedwig is at her most stripped down and vulnerable. Laura Herskov was impressive during Yitzhak’s big musical number, “The Long Grift.” Given the setup, it’s understandable the other members of The Angry Inch (Leigh’s Skszp. James Michael McHale as Jacek, Mazie Voss as Kryzyzhtof, and Julia Smuschkova as Schlatko) don’t get much spotlight. Still, their presence added a lot to the show, and they showed off impressive musicianship.
Everyone looked great. The costumes were appropriately thrift store glam and punk rock. My favorite costume was Yitzhak’s final outfit. The makeup was also great. I especially liked McHale’s Aladdin Sane/Kiss inspired look.
The personalized Chance touches, such as having the band perform at The La Palma Club, only made the show better.
 Although categorized as a revival, Hedwig had never been on Broadway prior to 2014.
Story8.5Acting8.5Set & Design9Costumes9Entertainment8.5
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Great Show! OCR Recommended!
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