by Louise, Director of Operations
I bought my tickets for Hedwig and the Angry Inch back in January to be safe, knowing the combination of the 2001 film’s cult following and Neil Patrick Harris’s rabid and widespread fanbase would make it the toughest ticket of the spring, and the anticipation proceeded to kill me until I finally got to attend last night. I’ll confess I’ve never seen the Hedwig film (something I will fix soon) so everything was new to me. It was rather delightful to not really know what was coming. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is, in essence, a concert that tells a story. The band is The Angry Inch, and its leading lady Hedwig is a transsexual from East Germany who has landed a “one-night-only” gig at the Belasco Theater after the untimely closing of Hurt Locker: The Musical (this and many other timely jokes have been added to the Broadway production). Through the 100 minute performance, she tells the story of her early childhood interest in music, how she escaped East Berlin, her botched sex change operation, her life in America, and her history with acclaimed rock star Tommy Gnosis, who happens to be performing a “redemption concert” immediately outside the theater.
While very funny (mostly full of jokes I wouldn’t dare to reiterate here), Hedwig is also incredibly poignant and moving. She initially appears as sort of a caricature, but the more you learn about her the more you see her for her fragility and humanity. The character’s costumes reflect this exposure – she makes her entrance in a costume and wig combination that covers everything but her face, and by the end of the show she is nearly naked. I laughed more than I have laughed at a show in recent memory, but I was also deeply moved and a little teary at times. The emotional breadth is what pushes the show from great fun to amazing theater – it would be easy just to watch a talented actor perform in drag and make crass jokes for an hour and a half, but of course it would not be easy to be young transgender woman with a botched sex change from East Germany trying to make it in America. To really get to know Hedwig as a person is the honor of watching this show.
Of course, it’s also very very funny, and Neil Patrick Harris is predictably incredible. He walks in heels about 100 times better than I do, and moves like a man half his age. He looks and sounds amazing and every move, glance and gesture is spot on. This is the performance of a lifetime for him. Watching him do this, I couldn’t help but think that it was only about eight years ago that Neil Patrick Harris revealed his homosexuality, and how remarkable it is that in under a decade he could go from being closeted to being a gay icon and playing a trans icon on Broadway. And it was merely two years before that that he filmed an episode of Law & Order: CI in the chocolate factory where I was working at the time, and I got to hang out with him a little bit and I had absolutely no inkling of how cool that was. He was still Doogie Howser to me back then. It’s been quite a decade to be Neil Patrick Harris, and such an honor to watch his star so rightly rise.
That tangent aside (though I’ve included a picture from when I hung out with him, because of course I did) GO SEE THIS SHOW. You’ll want to buy your tickets before June 8th. After the Tonys they will be impossible to get. I mean it. Seriously. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for custom packages including tickets to Hedwig and the Angry Inch!