Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Entertainment, Theater — By on February 23, 2017 at 6:25 am


By Ross Kolde and Aimee Musser

Waiting for a play to start is a bit like waking up from a dreamless sleep. Reality had ceased, and is about to reassert itself again, but stranger, more pronounced. With this version of Hedwig, you awaken to an apocalypse; a derelict car, and the outline of a mushroom cloud. Don’t worry, this is totally appropriate. The world you knew previously must be destroyed for this experience to begin. You hear the voice of the announcer as he struggles through these Eastern names and your toes curl until you hear that name “Hedwig” and you feel a pronounced tingling in your spine. It is either your Kundalini rising, or something more sexual, either way, you dare not admit it to yourself, not here, not with what surrounds you. The music is lightning, phallic and tremendous. The stars of the play file out.

What follows is a panacea to every existential problem we know. Punk rock, comedy, freakishness, and confused sexual impulses; everything this generation needs in its entertainment. With strange gyrations that manifest weird little sexual responsivities and pangs of deluding arousals, Criss moves about the stage in a flurry of force and vigor. The incredible music and titillating plot force upon the viewer some very personal questions. Questions about which way one even leans inundate the struggling psyche, as so much sexual data floods the brain, that even sane men leave sporting a twitch. You sit in your seat thinking “No, this surely isn’t the time to sort out these feelings, I will merely sit with this until the appropriate time to sort out my predilections..:”

All I know, Hedwig took to the audience with her crotch with such enthusiasm during one scene, that evaluation and revaluation eventually did distract me from the ear and eye candy that paraded for me onstage. Hedwig enters the audience and chooses one or two people to act as props during the rendition of “Sugar Bowl.”

All self-awakening aside, let us truly consider this play. For most pre-existing fans, the problem will always be that of originality… can anyone be as good as John Cameron Mitchell? To answer this, we must ask ourselves, is any one person big enough to be THE Hedwig? Seriously, fans, consider that proposition for a moment. Is Hedwig not bigger than all of us? Criss is a beautiful creature and can croon with as much punk rock vitriol as the original actor. There’s also one key difference between watching that classic piece of cinema and witnessing a live stage act of the play: the live music. Something about it just gets into your spine. Again, it may be Kundalini, it may be mystical, it may be sexual, and it may merely be that timeless quality of punk rock, but it is there; and it clicks out it’s rhythm as evenly as a train speeding down its tracks to some eventual explosion of death and chaos.

Each song is an ode, each quip and joke, a silent nod from one unique strange-person to another. Each lick and each chorus brings disparate elements into closer contact with each other. You have no chance of leaving this play unchanged.

 The sad news is more of a temporary setback than anything even approaching doom. A monster like Hedwig has won four Tony’s, two Obie’s, and many more accolades. So whereas the run at the Pantages has concluded, we shant be worried for long. Hedwig will never die. It’s timeless like God, cold sores, and taxes.

I will end this missive on the nature of reality with a favored anecdote from our trip to see Hedwig.  As my fiancé and I waited in line for our merchandise after the show, I saw an amazing sight. A young teenage kid with his mom both waited in line. She spoke in hushed words to calm him down. Apparently, his enthusiasm to crest the line and get his t-shirt was great. He wore plaid and sported a buzz cut. He looked as white and as square as could be, but he damn well loved the show, and clearly, might have done so even more than I. He appeared so normal, but he was one of us! It took a mere fraction of a second to realize that THIS was in FACT the AMERICA that I wanted to live in, because, after all, someday America won’t exist. It will be a smoking crater in the Earth. It will be no more, a ghost of some mechanical beast fueled on blood and amusing cologne ads. And in the wreckage, amongst the mutants and post-apocalyptic hordes of strange people, there will be Hedwig. Hedwig will be all that remains of America. It is American. Despite rumors that it is, in fact, mostly Canadian, it is arguably more American than pie and sports. Hedwig will survive America by sheer eons.


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