“Hedwig” quickly inches toward a 2014 Tony Nomination
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Roaringly hilarious, passionately tragic and masterfully performed, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is immeasurably perfect. After nearly 14 years off of the New York stage, “Hedwig” returns with the legendary Neil Patrick Harris as its title character. Director Michael Mayer’s (“Spring Awakening” and “American Idiot”) revival of the 1998 musical, written by John Cameron Mitchell, is destined for a 2014 Tony Nomination.
Harris generates a superb performance, establishing an enticing presence on stage as Hedwig, the “internationally ignored song stylist.” There’s no better man for the role: he masterfully embodies Hedwig, never breaking character and controlls the script with such perfection that each night at the Belasco Theatre seems improvised and personalized.
“Hedwig” narrates a role-defying tale that tears down the walls of societal norms. An emotionally lost boy living in East Berlin must give up part of himself in his search for freedom, love and happiness. After a botched gender reassignment surgery, Hedwig moves to America to become a rock star. Now, on stage in front of his New York audience, she gives the performance of her lifetime while recounting her past conflicts. The rawness behind Harris’ voice, and even his movements, calls audiences’ attention to the pain and torture Hedwig endures.
Audiences are enthralled from the beginning as Hedwig descends onto the stage wearing a gold-sequined KISS-esque outfit as the “Star Spangled Banner” plays. The contagiously catchy setlist, written by Stephen Task, mixes rock, R&B and pop, creating an iPod-worthy soundtrack. The songs touch on Hedwig’s introspective battles and philosophical ideals. A personal favorite, “The Origin of Love,” explains Hedwig’s perspective of love based on Greek mythological theories.
She dares audiences to tear her down, only to further her vulnerability: “I’m the new Berlin Wall baby, Try and tear me down!” Through the intermission-free one hour and 40 minutes, viewers understand and relate to Hedwig; she’s lost, she’s hurt, she’s lonely, which ultimately leads them to understand that she’s perfect.
Alongside Harris, the astounding Lena Hall guarantees her place as Broadway’s next brilliant star, and that’s by no means an assumption. Her incredible embodiment of Yitzhak, Hedwig’s husband, compels audiences to root for her. While Hedwig gives audiences details of her past, Yitzhak’s sorrow is felt in his actions and voice. Powerful would be an understatement of Hall’s vocal capabilities. The control she has over her voice demands even more attention from the audience; she shines brighter than Hedwig’s glittering attire.
Its compellingly unconventional plot has audiences hysterically laughing and crying for the irresistible cast. Under Hedwig’s glitter, wigs and makeup lies a human with whom everyone can relate as she battles to find her place in this world.
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” has topped the Broadway box-office since previews began on March 29 and officially opened last week on April 22. Be sure to experience the magnificent and emotional journey at the Belasco Theatre on 111 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036. Tickets are on sale now at www.hedwigbroadway.com. Prices range from $47 to $200.