If the other two shows are of the caliber that tonight (Monday’s) performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s audiences are in for a spectacular experience.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is less of a musical and more of a rock opera – though it includes a fair amount of spoken monologue as well. The premise is that we, the audience, are attending a concert performed by Hedwig and her band The Angry Inch. Hedwig (Chris Miller) herself, assisted by her husband Yitzahk (Kate Kitchens) tells us her fascinatingly unusual life story over the course of the show. We learn about her transition and her tumultuous love life. In fact, ‘Tommy Gnosis’, her biggest rival, who happens to be both her musical and romantic ex-partner, is playing in a nearby venue – nearby to the point where we can hear snippets of his rock concert .
The Berlin Wall and its eventual deconstruction play a significant role in Hedwig’s story, yet Hedwig’s team should be commended for their clever localization and modernization of the musical. Using St Andrean landmarks and even calling out On The Rocks committee member Charlie McGuire. There was even an incredible “Smirth’s”-related original number written by musical director Joe Revell and director/choreographer Taryn O’Connor, referencing the Blind Mirth show that had gone up in the Byre the night before.
The overall production was crafted beautifully. The passion shared by the talented team in creating a visually and audibly stunning show was clearly demonstrated. Unfortunately, there was a recurring distracting tech issue. The timing of the audio cues for “Tommy’s” nearby show never seemed to match up with the opening of the door that led to them. Hopefully this will be ironed out for the next two performances as it did temporarily take from production.
Milan Cater showed considerable talent in her production of animation used in the show. The animation itself was gorgeous and effective at adding another layer of emotion to an already particularly poignant song.
The team members who made up and costumed Hedwig and Yitzhak also did an excellent job. You could have cut glass with Hedwig’s cheekbones. Though there were some wig issues, it is a testament to the skill level of the performers that for a moment I believed it was part of the act—a demonstration of Hedwig’s uncomfortable adjustment into her new role as a woman.
“The Angry Inch,” Hedwig’s backup band, also play a huge role in making the show as enjoyable as it was. These are a group of truly talented musicians who successfully embodied both in demeanor and musicality the vibes of an authentic rock group.
I have up until this point focused on commenting on the aspects of the production that will for the most part remain the same for any of the performances. With three different actors playing Hedwig, it will follow that each of the three shows will greatly differ as the performances will vary greatly based on how each decide to interpret the character.
That being said, my Hedwig was outstanding. Though perhaps a bit erratic in emotion, these wild mood swings fit the character’s unpredictability. At the start of the show, Miller’s Hedwig was slightly reserved and there were a few issues with enunciation; however, these rapidly disappeared as he relaxed into the incredibly demanding role. Miller moved fluidly—at some times with grace and others with raw sexuality. But it was sheer vocal talent, both from him and Kitchens, that brought the house down. Miller’s ability to sing delicate ballads as well as belt rock-diva anthems demonstrated a range that most musical performers can only dream about. “Sugar Daddy” was a personal highlight.
When Miller’s Hedwig flirted with the audience, she did so beautifully, at one point fully thrusting her crotch into the face of an unsuspecting audience member. I just wish there had been slightly more playing with the audience as we were entirely game for it.
Additionally, there is one point where Miller sings as Hedwig’s nemesis Tommy which heavily evoked the alt rock of the nineties/noughties. If he takes nothing else from university, Miller can rest assured that there is a career out there for him as the next Pete Wentz. The thirteen-year-old girl within me was thrilled.
Kitchens also shone in her smaller role. Her gorgeous, powerful voice (when it was given the chance by the jealous Hedwig) stunned and she effectively portrayed the browbeaten Yitzhak.
In spite of a few technical issues and some questionable (yet thankfully not distracting) German accents, Hedwig and the Angry Inch— if the other two Hedwigs also deliver– is a show not to be missed.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is presented as part of On The Rocks