Hedwig and the Angry Inch (musical)
|Hedwig and the Angry Inch|
|Book||John Cameron Mitchell|
Regional and international productions
2000 West End
2001 movie version
2004 West End
2005 UK tour
|Awards||1998 Obie Award
2014 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical
2014 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by an East German transgender singer. The book is by John Cameron Mitchell, and the music and lyrics are by Stephen Trask. The story draws on Mitchell's life as the son of a U.S. Army Major General who once commanded the U.S. sector of occupied West Berlin. The character of Hedwig was inspired by a German divorced U.S. Army wife who was a Mitchell family babysitter and moonlighted as a prostitute at her Junction City, Kansas, trailer park home. The music is steeped in the androgynous 1970s glam rock style of David Bowie (who co-produced the Los Angeles production of the show), as well as the work of John Lennon and early punk performers Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.
The musical opened Off-Broadway in 1998, and won the Obie Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical. The production ran for two years, and was remounted with various casts by the original creative team in other US cities. In 2000, the musical had a London West End production, and it has been produced throughout the world in hundreds of stage productions. In 2014 it had its first Broadway production, winning the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.
- 1 History
- 2 Synopsis
- 3 Songs
- 4 Productions
- 5 Adaptations
- 6 Sequel
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 Fandom
- 9 Recordings
- 10 Song covers
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The character of Hedwig was originally a supporting character in the piece. She was loosely inspired by a German female babysitter/prostitute who worked for Mitchell's family when he was a teenager in Junction City, Kansas. The character of Tommy, originally conceived as the main character, was based on Mitchell himself: both were gay, the sons of an army general, deeply Roman Catholic, and fascinated with mythology. Hedwig became the story's protagonist when Trask encouraged Mitchell to showcase their earliest material in 1994 at NYC's drag-punk club Squeezebox, where Trask headed the house band and Mitchell's boyfriend, Jack Steeb, played bass.
They agreed the piece should be developed through band gigs in clubs rather than in a theater setting in order to preserve a rock energy. Mitchell was deeply influenced by Squeezebox's roster of drag performers who performed rock covers. The setlists of Hedwig's first gigs included many covers with lyrics rewritten by Mitchell to tell Hedwig's story: Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well"; Television's "See No Evil"; Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World"; Yoko Ono's "Death of Samantha"; Pere Ubu's "Non-Alignment Pact"; Cher's "Half Breed"; David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging"; Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes"; and the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale." A German glam rendition of Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" once served as the musical's finale.
Mitchell's second gig was as fill-in host at Squeezebox on a bill featuring singer Deborah Harry of Blondie. It was for this occasion that Mike Potter first designed Hedwig's trademark wig, which was initially constructed from toilet paper rolls wrapped with synthetic blond hair. Mitchell, Trask, and the band Cheater (Jack Steeb, Chris Weilding, Dave McKinley, and Scott Bilbrey) continued to workshop material at venues such as Fez Nightclub and Westbeth Theater Center for four years before premiering the completed musical Off-Broadway in 1998.
The concept of the stage production is that the audience is watching transgender rockstar Hedwig Robinson's musical act as she follows rockstar Tommy Gnosis's (much more successful) tour around the country. Occasionally Hedwig opens a door onstage to listen to Gnosis's concert, which is playing in an adjoining venue. Gnosis is recovering from an incident that nearly ruined his career, having crashed his car into a school bus full of mentally challenged children while high and receiving oral sex from none other than Hedwig herself. Capitalizing on her notoriety from the incident, Hedwig determines to tell the audience her story ("Tear Me Down").
She is aided and hindered by her assistant, back-up singer and husband, Yitzhak. A Jewish drag queen from Zagreb, Yitzhak has an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship with Hedwig. She verbally abuses him throughout the evening, and it becomes clear that she is threatened by his natural talent, which eclipses her own. She describes how she agreed to marry him only after extracting a promise from him to never do drag again, and how he bitterly resents her treatment of him. (To further the musical's theme of blurred gender lines, Yitzhak is played by a female actress.)
Hedwig tells her life story, which began when she was Hansel Schmidt, an East German "slip of a girlyboy" growing up in East Berlin, who loves philosophy and western rock music. Hansel becomes fascinated with a story called "The Origin of Love," based on Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium. It explains that three sexes of human beings once existed: "children of the sun" (man and man attached), "children of the earth" (woman and woman attached), and "children of the moon" (man and woman attached). Each were once round, two-headed, four-armed, and four-legged beings. Angry gods split these early humans in two, leaving the separated people with a lifelong yearning for their other half. Hansel determines to search for his other half, but is convinced he will have to travel to the West to do so.
This becomes possible when he meets Luther Robinson, a U.S. soldier ("Sugar Daddy"). Luther falls in love with Hansel and the two decide to marry. This plan will allow Hansel to leave communist East Germany for the capitalist West. However, in order to be married, the couple must consist of a man and a woman, so Hansel's mother, Hedwig, gives her child her name and passport and finds a doctor to perform a sex change. The operation is botched, however, and her surgically constructed vagina heals closed, leaving Hansel – now Hedwig – with a dysfunctional one-inch mound of flesh between her legs, "with a scar running down it like a sideways grimace on an eyeless face." ("Angry Inch")
Hedwig goes to live in Junction City, Kansas, as Luther's wife. On their first wedding anniversary, Luther leaves Hedwig for a man. That same day, it is announced that the Berlin Wall has fallen and Germany will reunite, meaning Hedwig's sacrifice was for nothing. ("Wig in a box")
Hedwig recovers from the separation by forming a rock band, which she names "The Angry Inch". Hedwig befriends a shy and misunderstood Christian teenager Tommy Speck, who is fascinated by a song she writes with him in mind ("Wicked Little Town".) They collaborate on songs, and begin a relation. Their songs are a success, and Hedwig gives him the stage name "Tommy Gnosis." Hedwig believes that Tommy is her soulmate and that she cannot be whole without him, but he is disgusted when he discovers that she is transgendered and abandons her. He goes on to become a wildly successful rock star with the songs Hedwig wrote alone and with him. The "internationally ignored" Hedwig and her band the Angry Inch are forced to support themselves by playing coffee bars and strip mall dives. She feels driven to either reunite with him or destroy him.
Hedwig grows more erratic and unstable as the evening progresses, until she finally breaks down, stripping off her wig, dress, and make-up ("Hedwig's Lament/Exquisite Corpse"). At the height of her breakdown, she seems to transform into Tommy Gnosis, who both begs for and offers forgiveness in a reprise of the song she wrote for him ("Wicked Little Town Reprise"). Hedwig, out of drag, finds acceptance within herself, giving her wig to Yitzhak. At peace, Hedwig departs the stage as Yitzhak takes over her final song, dressed fabulously in drag. ("Midnight Radio")
Actors who have played Hedwig onstage in the U.S. include the Tony award-winning actor Michael Cerveris, Tony award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris, Tony-nominated actor Andrew Rannells, Golden Globe winner Michael C. Hall, former Brat Pack member Ally Sheedy, Kevin Cahoon, Gene Dante, Rent star Anthony Rapp, stage/film actors Matt McGrath and Nick Garrison, and Australian performer iOTA. Other notable figures who have portrayed Hedwig include Chip Joyce, and Donovan Leitch, Jr., the glam-rocker son of sixties folk-rock composer Donovan. RuPaul's Drag Race season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon has also portrayed Hedwig in a Seattle production in 2013.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theatre on February 14, 1998 and closed on April 9, 2000 after 857 performances. Direction was by Peter Askin and musical staging by Jerry Mitchell, with Hedwig initially played by John Cameron Mitchell. The theater was located in the ballroom of the Hotel Riverview, which once housed the surviving crew of the Titanic (a fact which figured in the original production).
Atrocity Tour by Rose Tinted Productions played 2004 at the following Venues:
- April 30 - May 15, 2004 at Brighton Fringe
- July 25, 2004 at Sussex Arts Club, Brighton
- August 6–14, 2004 at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Venue 231, 1/4 rm@Greenside (Sub Sanctuary), Greenside Church, Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5AB
with Hedwig - Matthew Tapscott and Yitzhak - Mel Farmery, The Angry Inch: Skszp - Steve Lockwood (bass and MD), Schlatko - Lee Farmery (drums), Jacek - Tesco (guitar), Krzyzhtof - Stu (guitar), Hlava - Marcus Lane (keyboards), Creative Team: John Lynch - Artistic Director and Producer, Paul Howse - Lighting Design, Special Effects, Jim Craig - Stage Manager, Steve Lockwood - Musical Director, Leanne Edwards - Choreography, Wanda MacRae - Original Make Up and Wig Design, Pete Mathers - Sound Engineer, UK shows produced by Rose Tinted Productions by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd
Atrocity Tour also played in Italy in November 3–14, 2004 at Teatro Ariberto, Milan
The Wicked Little Towns Tour 2005/2006 by Janus Theatre Company played at the following Venues:
- October 8, 2005 at New Greenham Arts, Newbury, Berkshire
- October 13, 2005 to Saturday October 15th, 2005 at Mill Studio, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, Surrey
- October 23, 2005 at Sussex Arts Club, Brighton, Sussex
- October 29, 2005 at South Street Theatre, Reading, Berkshire
- January 14, 2006 at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, Surrey
with Nick D. Garrisson - Hedwig (Garrisson has performed the role of Hedwig also in Chicago, San Francisco and 2002 and 2004 in Seattle. won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actor) and Maggie Bartlet - Yitzhak, The Angry Inch: Skszp - Steve Lockwood (bass and MD), Schlatko - Mark Dean (drums), Jacek - Michel Davis (guitar), Krzyzhtof - Tony Marchant (guitar), Hlava - Marcus Lane (keyboards)
In the summer of 2010 the show was staged at the George Square Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Italian Premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch by britisch Atrocity Tour in 2004:
with original Atrocity Tour-Cast, produced by Alessio Rombolotti in association with Helen Merill NYC, Simone Stucchi - Sound Engineer
The Canadian premiere was in 2001 in Toronto starring Ted Dykstra, with musical direction by Mo Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness.
The show premiered in Western Canada with simultaneous productions in Edmonton and Vancouver in April 2003. The Theatre Network production in Edmonton—directed by Bradley Moss and featuring Michael Scholar, Jr. as Hedwig and Rachael Johnston as Yitzhak—opened April 1 and was held over until April 27. In Vancouver, Hoarse Raven Theatre's production, directed by Michael Fera, opened April 4 featuring Greg Armstrong-Morris as Hedwig and Meghan Gardiner as Yitzhak, and was held over until June 7. Further productions in Canada included the sold out 2007 production by Pickled Productions, the 2009 Toronto production by Ghost Light Projects.
From October 2 through to November 2, 2013, Ghost Light Projects returned the production to Vancouver for a five week engagement at The Cobalt. Starring Ryan Alexander McDonald as Hedwig and Lee McKeown as Yitzhak. Music direction by Juno Award winner Mark Reid and directed by Randie Parliament and Greg Bishop.
- Puerto Rico: In the summer of 2010, Hedwig and the Angry Inch played in San Juan, Puerto Rico with Gil René playing the part of Hedwig and the band Simples Mortales doing all the live music. This version of Hedwig was completely translated to Spanish.
- Prague: In spring of 2011 English-language Prague theatre AKANDA staged Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Iron Curtain Club, with Jeff Fritz as Hedwig and Uliana Elina as Yitzhak. In July 2011, the show was staged at Bangkok University.
- Brazil: On August 2010 a Brazilian adaptation of Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered in Rio de Janeiro, with Paulo Vilhena and Pierre Baitelli playing Hedwig.
This is the first adaptation where there are two actors simultaneously playing Hedwig onstage. The play was translated by Jonas Calmon Klabin and directed by Evandro Mesquita, with musical direction by Danilo Timm and Evandro Mesquita. Eline Porto played Yitzhak, Alexandre Griva on the drums, Fabrizio Iorio on the keyboards, Patrick Laplan on the bass, and Pedro Nogueira playing the guitar.
The musical previews ran from August 10 to September 3, 2010 and the full show ran from September 15 to November 6, 2010, totaling 46 performances.
The same production reopened in São Paulo on August 26, 2011 and ran until October 16, 2011, for a total of 25 performances, now with actors Pierre Baitelli and Felipe Carvalhido playing Hedwig. Eline Porto played Yitzhak, Diego Andrade on the drums, Fabrizio Iorio on the keyboards, Melvin Ribeiro on the bass, and Pedro Nogueira playing the guitar. Nominated for Best Actor (Pierre Baitelli) and Best Musical direction (Danilo Timm and Evandro Mesquita) at the Prêmio Shell de Teatro. Winner of Best Actor (Pierre Baitelli and nominated for Best Production (Oz), Best Director (Evandro Mesquita), and Best Actress (Eline Porto) at the Prêmio Arte Qualidade Brasil. Also, one nomination for Best Musical in a Brazilian adaptation for the Prêmio Contigo de Teatro.
This same production performed again in Rio de Janeiro from April 4–22, 2012, and a tour to Curitiba, performing April 26–29, 2012, for a total of 16 performances. On November 24, 2012, John Cameron Mitchell performed a concert with the Brazilian Hedwig cast and guests and there were another two performances of Hedwig in Rio, November 23 and 25, and 4 performances in Fortaleza, November 29, 30, December 1 and 2, 2012. There are another 7 performances scheduled for February 2014 in Brasilia and Recife, finalizing the Brazilian Hedwig project with a total of 100 performances.
On March 23, 2006 Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered at Metropol Wien in Vienna. (with Andreas Bieber - Hedwig and Anke Fiedler - Yitzak, Director and Costumedesign - Torsten Fischer, Hedwigs Band: Drums - Markus Adamer; Bass - Matthias Petereit - Guitar: Harry Peller - Guitar & Keyboards: - Bernhard Wagner), German Translation - Gerd Koester & Herbert Schaefer)
- October 3, 2002 – November 20, 2002 - Glashaus der Arena Berlin (with Drew Sarich - Hedwig, Director: Rhys Martin)
- May 30, 2013 - August 31, 2013 Admiralspalast Klub (with Sven Ratzke - Hedwig, Guntbert Warns - Director)
- September 17, 2014 - September 20, 2014 BKA Theater of Berlin
- February 2008 (with Nigel Francis - Hedwig)
- November 20, 2009 - December 20, 2009 - Sinkkasten
- November 20, 2010 - January 8, 2011 - Nachtleben
- August 19, 2011 - August 21, 2011 - Neues Theater Hoechst (with Nigel Francis - Hedwig and Diana Nagel - Yitzak)
- On June 19, 2014 a German adaptation of Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered at Schwankhalle in Bremen, with Actors Pascal Nöldner as Hedwig, Birgit Corinna Lange as Yitzhak and Band Carsten Sauer (Keyboard), Denni Fischer (Bass), Keule (Guitar) & Norman Karlsen (Drums), Director: Nomena Struß in a Production of Schwankhalle Bremen. Twelve performances are on schedule. there was a public rehearsal on June 11, 2014.
A San Francisco production at Boxcar Theatre in summer 2012 featured twelve actors, male and female and of multiple ethnicities, portraying Hedwig in each show. A revival of the production, beginning in December 2012 and continuing through August 2013, featured eight actors nightly in the lead role.
In June 2013 JJ Parkey and Ruthie Stephens played Hedwig and Yitzhak at the Short North Stage Production in Columbus, Ohio.
After a successful 2013 run and a New Year's Eve performance, Roxy Theatricals presented the production from January 17 to February 1, 2014 at The Legacy Theatre in Springfield, IL.
Broadway Re-Launch Premiere
Neil Patrick Harris starred in the first Broadway production at the Belasco Theatre, which began previews on March 29, 2014 and officially opened on April 22, 2014. Harris stayed in the production through August 17, 2014. The director is Michael Mayer with musical staging by Spencer Liff. Lena Hall plays Yitzhak, Hedwig's husband. This production won several Tony awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Lead Actor in a Musical (Harris) and Best Featured Actress in a musical (Hall). It was also nominated for Best Costume Design for a Play (Arianne Phillips), Who also did the costumes for the original 2001 film. After Harris departed the production, Andrew Rannells took over the role of Hedwig on August 20, 2014, followed by Michael C. Hall, who played Hedwig from October 16, 2014 through January 18, 2015. The production currently features co-creator John Cameron Mitchell returning to the role he created; he is scheduled to perform from January 21 through March 14, 2015.
Hurt Locker The Musical
This version of the musical updates the story to modern day and has Hedwig performing on the abandoned set of Hurt Locker: The Musical, which closed the prior evening midway through its first performance. Hedwig explains that because it closed so quickly, she was able to convince one of the producers to allow her to use what would have been an otherwise empty and unused stage. Faux Playbills for the musical are littered throughout the theater and discuss various elements of the musical, which Hedwig occasionally mentions offhand throughout the musical. Director Michael Mayer stated that they came up with the idea for Hurt Locker: The Musical as a way to explain Hedwig's presence in a Broadway theater. It was also used as a way to update the script to modern day as well as explain how Hedwig would be able to use such stage settings. Various newspapers have commented favorably on the faux Playbills, both an element of the musical and as a piece separate from the musical itself.
First regional remount since the Broadway production will be produced by TheatreLAB and Spin, Spit & Swear in Richmond, VA - October 2014. Matt Shofner stars as Hedwig and Bianca Bryan will play Yitzhak.
Bangkok University Theatre Company, Bangkok University
In June 2014, John Cameron Mitchell confirmed that he and Stephen Trask were working on a sequel.
Awards and nominations
The 2014 Broadway production received eight 2014 Tony Award nominations: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Neil Patrick Harris), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Lena Hall), Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Julian Crouch), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Arianne Phillips), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams), Best Sound Design of a Musical (Tim O'Heir) and Best Direction of a Musical. The production won four Tony Awards (tied with A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder for most awards in 2014): Best Revival of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Lena Hall, and Best Actor in a Musical for Neil Patrick Harris.
Fans of the play and film refer to themselves as "Hedheads". In Korea and Japan, a number of teen idols and respected actors have played the role and inspired a large number of young, female Hedheads.
- 1998 Original off-Broadway Cast
- 2000 Movie Soundtrack
- 2002 "Wig" Cleveland Public Theatre Cast
- 2003 Wig in a Box (tribute album)
- 2004 UK Atrocity Tour cast
- 2005 Original Korean Cast
- 2005 Peruvian Cast (Hedwig Y la Pulgada Furiosa)
- 2006 Korean Cast
- 2006 Original Australian Cast
- 2014 Original Broadway Cast
In 2003, Chris Slusarenko's Off Records released an album called Wig in a Box, a charity tribute album which also included new material adding to the mythology of Hedwig. Performers included Frank Black and The Breeders. Slusarenko said that he fielded questions from Kim Deal of The Breeders about Black, her former bandmate in The Pixies, with whom she'd had limited conversation since the band's breakup in 1993. They made contact soon after, and Pixies reunited the following spring. Other bands who participated in "Wig in a Box" were Yo La Tengo featuring Yoko Ono, Sleater-Kinney featuring Fred Schneider (of The B-52's), Jonathan Richman, Rufus Wainwright, Polyphonic Spree, Spoon, Imperial Teen, Bob Mould, Cyndi Lauper with The Minus Five (featuring Peter Buck of R.E.M.), The Bens (Ben Folds, Ben Lee and Ben Kweller), They Might Be Giants and Robyn Hitchcock. Trask and Mitchell completed an unfinished Tommy Gnosis song (leftover from the musical's development days) called "Milford Lake" (sung by Mitchell) and included it. The CD also features comedian Stephen Colbert reciting the spoken introduction to Tear Me Down. The profits of this album benefitted The Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the Harvey Milk High School, a New York City public school for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth who have experienced discrimination and violence in other public schools or at home and are at risk of not completing their secondary education.
"Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig", a documentary about the making of the "Wig in a Box" benefit cd, profiled students from the Harvey Milk School. It was directed by Katherine Linton and produced by the Sundance Channel and is now available on DVD.
Meat Loaf covered "Tear Me Down" that same year on his album Couldn't Have Said It Better, modifying some of the lyrics (notably the spoken section about the Berlin Wall) so that the song is instead about Texas and Meat Loaf's own life.
Future Kings of Spain covered "Angry Inch" for the b-side of their 2003 single, "Hanging Around".
Dar Williams, who is a college friend of composer Stephen Trask, covered "Midnight Radio" on her 2008 album Promised Land.
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- Official Broadway website
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch (musical) at the Internet off-Broadway Database
- Hedwig.com.au Official site of the Australian production of Hedwig
- Hedwig in a Box Official fan club
- Official site of the German production Bremen 2014 of Hedwig
- Official Facebook of the German production Bremen 2014 of Hedwig
- Official site of the German production Berlin 2013, 2014 of Hedwig
- Official Facebook of the German production Berlin 2013, 2014 of Hedwig
- Official site of the German production Frankfurt 2010, 2011 of Hedwig
- Hedwig in Cleveland official site
- Hedwig Brazil