From the Artistic Director
Dear Friends and Patrons,
My first experience with Hedwig was not the 2001 movie or seeing it on stage, it was the original cast recording of the Off-Broadway production. I was not a musical theatre kid growing up. I had never been into listening to musicals I had not seen – but this album rocked! From the glam rock opener Tear Me Down, to the extraordinary ballad The Origin of Love to the shocking, hard driving punk rock of the titular song Angry Inch to the rock anthem Midnight Radio the show was packed with inspired, outstanding music.
When I finally saw the movie I was captivated by the mind and gender bending tale of Hedwig and her fictional band The Angry Inch. The story, as Hedwig puts it of “how did some slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin become the internationally ignored song stylist barely standing before you” is both simple and unbelievably complex. On the simple level – there is a rock star playing a concert in town. Also playing a concert is that star’s bitter ex-girlfriend who is throwing a counter-concert with her band. She tells stories of her life and sings autobiographical songs about how she came here and how the rock star broke her heart and betrayed her by stealing all of her songs.
Only the ex-girlfriend used to be a boy named Hansel who was forced to get a sex-change operation in order to escape the repressive communist government of East Germany to pursue the American Dream. That sex change operation got botched, and now Hansel is Hedwig, with a “Barbie doll crotch” that gives the band its name.
When I saw the revival in New York with Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall I was struck by several things:
- This is a great show
- The story is funny, tragic, shocking, raw and ultimately a moving portrait of the search for love, acceptance, self-acceptance and recognition. It also has perhaps the greatest rock score in the history of musical theatre.
- This is a hot show
- It was the toughest ticket to get in NYC for a year – winning four Tonys, drawing young and old, getting huge press across the country, Hedwig went from obscure to hot. The tour is coming through DPAC in 2017.
- This is a relevant show
- Gender and sexuality issues are clearly something that our community, state and nation struggle to come together around. As a theatre that believes in inclusion, diversity and equity we are the ideal space to engage in this issue. Hedwig was programmed a year before HB2 passed, but we are very happy to provide the community a safe space to come together and have this difficult conversation. This is how we grow as a community – by gaining perspective, through art, on our lives and learning empathy for people by walking a mile in their shoes. Or heels.
- This is a producible show
- You need a great rock band and 2 fantastic actors. We have that. We have the best theatre in the state to see a musical, and our production will rival any Hedwig at any theatre in the country.
Hedwig won’t be for everyone – and that is okay. Not everyone likes a good old fashioned comedy like Arsenic and Old Lace. Some people will not be interested in the music and life of Johnny Cash. Plenty of folks will not want to come to a rock show with a front woman of questionable gender who discusses sex acts and a botched sex change operation. Being the theatre of the whole community does not mean every show is for every person, it means we offer a diverse repertory of work that is reflective of our big, beautiful, diverse, contentious, loving community.
We hope to see you at the theatre!
If you want to learn more about Hedwig and how it came to be Rolling Stone had a great article on the history of the production called “Gender Bender: An Oral History of ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’”.
This clip from the (R-rated) film of The Origin of Love is very close to the original production’s video.
Here’s a news story about the original Off Broadway production.
And an excellent, though long interview with John Cameron Mitchell from 2014.