Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask and a book by John Cameron Mitchell. The musical follows Hedwig Robinson, a genderqueer East German singer of a fictional rock and roll band. The story draws on Mitchell’s life as the child of a U.S. Army Major General who once commanded the U.S. sector of occupied West Berlin. The character of Hedwig was inspired by a German divorced U.S. Army wife who was Mitchell’s family babysitter and moonlighted as a prostitute at her trailer park home in Junction City, Kansas. The music is steeped in the androgynous 1970s glam rock style of David Bowie (who co-produced the Los Angeles production of the show), as well as the work of John Lennon and early punk performers Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.
The musical opened Off-Broadway in 1998, and won the Obie Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical. The production ran for two years, and was remounted with various casts by the original creative team in other US cities. In 2000, the musical had a West End production, and it has been produced throughout the world in hundreds of stage productions.
In 2014, the show saw its first Broadway incarnation, opening that April at the Belasco Theatre and winning the year’s Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. The production closed on September 13, 2015. A national tour of the show began at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre in October 2016 before closing at the Kennedy Center in July 2017.
Neil Patrick Harris – Out Magazine 2014
The character of Hedwig was originally a supporting character in the piece. She was loosely inspired by a German female babysitter/prostitute who worked for Mitchell’s family when he was a teenager in Junction City, Kansas. The character of Tommy, originally conceived as the main character, was based on Mitchell himself: both were gay, the sons of an army general, deeply Roman Catholic, and fascinated with mythology. Hedwig became the story’s protagonist when Trask encouraged Mitchell to showcase their earliest material in 1994 at NYC’s drag-punk club Squeezebox, where Trask headed the house band and Mitchell’s boyfriend, Jack Steeb, played bass.
They agreed the piece should be developed through band gigs in clubs rather than in a theater setting in order to preserve a rock energy. Mitchell was deeply influenced by Squeezebox’s roster of drag performers who performed rock covers. The setlists of Hedwig’s first gigs included many covers with lyrics rewritten by Mitchell to tell Hedwig’s story: Fleetwood Mac‘s “Oh Well”; Television‘s “See No Evil”; Wreckless Eric‘s “Whole Wide World”; Yoko Ono‘s “Death of Samantha“; Pere Ubu‘s “Non-Alignment Pact”; Cher‘s “Half Breed”; David Bowie‘s “Boys Keep Swinging”; Mott the Hoople‘s “All the Young Dudes”; and the Velvet Underground‘s “Femme Fatale.” A German glam rendition of Debby Boone‘s “You Light Up My Life” once served as the musical’s finale.
Mitchell’s second gig was as fill-in host at Squeezebox on a bill featuring singer Deborah Harry of Blondie. It was for this occasion that Mike Potter first designed Hedwig’s trademark wig, which was initially constructed from toilet paper rolls wrapped with synthetic blond hair. Mitchell, Trask, and the band Cheater (Jack Steeb, Chris Wielding, Dave McKinley, and Scott Bilbrey) continued to workshop material at venues such as Fez Nightclub and Westbeth Theater Center for four years before premiering the completed musical Off-Broadway in 1998.
Mitchell has explained that Hedwig is not a trans woman, but a genderqueer character. “She’s more than a woman or a man,” he has said. “She’s a gender of one and that is accidentally so beautiful.” He also stated that, while Hedwig is meant to be a queer voice, she is not meant to be specifically transgender: “[The sex change operation is] not a choice. Hedwig doesn’t speak for any trans community, because she was… mutilated.”
The concept of the stage production is that the audience is watching genderqueer rock singer Hedwig Robinson’s musical act as she follows rockstar Tommy Gnosis’s (much more successful) tour around the country. Occasionally Hedwig opens a door onstage to listen to Gnosis’s concert, which is playing in an adjoining venue. Gnosis is recovering from an incident that nearly ruined his career, having crashed his car into a school bus while high and receiving oral sex from none other than Hedwig. Capitalizing on her notoriety from the incident, Hedwig determines to tell the audience her story (“Tear Me Down”).
She is aided and hindered by her assistant, back-up singer and husband, Yitzhak. A Jewish drag queen from Zagreb, Yitzhak has an unhealthy, codependent relationship with Hedwig. Hedwig verbally abuses him throughout the evening, and it becomes clear that she is threatened by his natural talent, which eclipses her own. She describes how she agreed to marry him only after extracting a promise from him to never perform as a woman again, and he bitterly resents her treatment of him. (To further the musical’s theme of blurred gender lines, Yitzhak is played by a female actress.)
Hedwig tells her life story, which began when she was Hansel Schmidt, a “slip of a girlyboy” growing up in East Berlin. Raised by an emotionally distant single mother after her father, an American soldier, abandoned the family, Hansel takes solace in her love of western rock music. She becomes fascinated with a story called “The Origin of Love”, based on Aristophanes‘s speech in Plato’s Symposium. It explains that three sexes of human beings once existed: “children of the Sun” (man and man attached), “children of the Earth” (woman and woman attached), and “children of the Moon” (man and woman attached). Each were once round, two-headed, four-armed, and four-legged beings. Angry gods split these early humans in two, leaving the separated people with a lifelong yearning for their other half. Hansel is determined to search for her other half, but is convinced she will have to travel to the West to do so.
This becomes possible when, in her 20s, she meets Luther Robinson, an American soldier (“Sugar Daddy”) who convinces her to begin dressing in drag. Luther falls in love with Hansel and the two decide to marry. This plan will allow Hansel to leave communist East Germany for the capitalist West. Hansel’s mother, Hedwig, gives Hansel her name and passport and finds a doctor to perform a genital reassignment surgery. However, the operation is botched, and Hansel’s surgically constructed vagina heals closed, leaving Hedwig with a dysfunctional one-inch mound of flesh between her legs, “with a scar running down it like a sideways grimace on an eyeless face” (“Angry Inch”).
Hedwig goes to live in Junction City, Kansas, as Luther’s wife. On their first wedding anniversary, Luther leaves Hedwig for a man. That same day, it is announced that the Berlin Wall has fallen and Germany will reunite, meaning Hedwig’s sacrifice was for nothing. Hedwig recovers from the separation by creating a more glamorous, feminine identity for herself (“Wig in a Box”) and forming a rock band she calls The Angry Inch.
Hedwig befriends the brother of a child she babysits, shy and misunderstood Christian teenager Tommy Speck, who is fascinated by a song she writes with him in mind (“Wicked Little Town”). They collaborate on songs and begin a relationship. Their songs are a success, and Hedwig gives him the stage name Tommy Gnosis. Hedwig believes that Tommy is her soulmate and that she cannot be whole without him, but he is disgusted when he discovers that she is not biologically female and abandons her (“The Long Grift”). He goes on to become a wildly successful rock star with the songs Hedwig wrote alone and with him. The “internationally ignored” Hedwig and her band the Angry Inch are forced to support themselves by playing coffee bars and dives.
Hedwig grows more erratic and unstable as the evening progresses, until she finally breaks down, stripping off her wig, dress, and make-up, forcing Yitzhak to step forward and sing (“Hedwig’s Lament”/”Exquisite Corpse”). At the height of her breakdown, she seems to transform into Tommy Gnosis, who both begs for and offers forgiveness in a reprise of the song she wrote for him (“Wicked Little Town (Reprise)”). Hedwig, out of costume, finds acceptance within herself, giving her wig to Yitzhak. At peace, Hedwig departs the stage as Yitzhak takes over her final song, dressed fabulously in drag (“Midnight Radio”).
|Even though Yitzhak sings backup on almost all numbers in the show, the songs below that are labeled with Hedwig with Yitzhak are ones where he has notable solo lines. The show is performed without an intermission.|
§ This song is performed by the character Tommy Gnosis, who is meant to be portrayed by the same actor as Hedwig.
A song performed by Yitzhak and the band, “Random Number Generation” was included on the Off-Broadway Cast Album, but does not appear in the score. The Broadway production had the song prepared to play in case Hedwig had to leave the stage, along with “Freaks”, a song from the movie. Lena Hall performed the song at her final show during the sound check.
In the 2014 Broadway Revival, a small subplot was added to the script, and a small number was added to support it. Parodying The Hurt Locker Hedwig explains that a musical version of the story only ran for a single night before closing during intermission, and that she has convinced a producer to let her perform in what would otherwise be an empty stage. At one point Hedwig finds the theme for a song from the show, “When Love Explodes” and lets Yitzhak sing it, but stops him before he can sing the last note (the one exception being Lena Hall’s final night). Yitzhak sings the entire song (including a missing verse) in the Revival Cast Album.
Actors who have played Hedwig onstage in the U.S. include Michael Cerveris, Neil Patrick Harris, Lena Hall, Darren Criss, Taye Diggs, Andrew Rannells, Michael C. Hall, Ally Sheedy, Euan Morton, Kevin Cahoon, Gene Dante, Anthony Rapp, Matt McGrath, Jeff Skowron, and Nick Garrison, and iOTA. Other notable figures who have portrayed Hedwig include Donovan Leitch, Jr., the glam-rocker son of sixties folk-rock composer Donovan. RuPaul’s Drag Race season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon also portrayed Hedwig in a Seattle production in 2013.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theatre on February 14, 1998, and closed on April 9, 2000, after 857 performances. Direction was by Peter Askin and musical staging by Jerry Mitchell, with Hedwig initially played by John Cameron Mitchell and Yitzhak played by Miriam Shor. The theater was located in the ballroom of the Hotel Riverview, which once housed the surviving crew of the Titanic (a fact which figured in the original production).
Actors who played Hedwig in this Off-Broadway production included Michael Cerveris, Donovan Leitch, Ally Sheedy, Kevin Cahoon, Asa Somers, and Matt McGrath.
This production won the Obie Award, 1998 Special Citations for Stephen Trask and the casts  and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch opened in the West End at the Playhouse Theatre on Sept. 19, 2000 and closed on November 4, 2000, with Michael Cerveris.
Atrocity Tour by Rose Tinted Productions played 2004 at the following Venues:
- April 30 – May 15, 2004 at Brighton Fringe
- July 25, 2004 at Sussex Arts Club, Brighton
- August 6–14, 2004 at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Venue 231, 1/4 rm@Greenside (Sub Sanctuary), Greenside Church, Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5AB
with Hedwig – Matthew Tapscott and Yitzhak – Mel Farmery, The Angry Inch: Skszp – Steve Lockwood (bass and MD), Schlatko – Lee Farmery (drums), Jacek – Tesco (guitar), Krzyzhtof – Stu (guitar), Hlava – Marcus Lane (keyboards), Creative Team: John Lynch – Artistic Director and Producer, Paul Howse – Lighting Design, Special Effects, Jim Craig – Stage Manager, Steve Lockwood – Musical Director, Leanne Edwards – Choreography, Wanda MacRae – Original Make Up and Wig Design, Pete Mathers – Sound Engineer, UK shows produced by Rose Tinted Productions by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd
Atrocity Tour also played in Italy in November 3–14, 2004 at Teatro Ariberto, Milan
The Wicked Little Towns Tour 2005/2006 by Janus Theatre Company played at the following Venues:
- October 8, 2005 at New Greenham Arts, Newbury, Berkshire
- October 13, 2005 to Saturday October 15th, 2005 at Mill Studio, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, Surrey
- October 23, 2005 at Sussex Arts Club, Brighton, Sussex
- October 29, 2005 at South Street Theatre, Reading, Berkshire
- January 14, 2006 at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, Surrey
with Nick D. Garrisson – Hedwig (Garrisson has performed the role of Hedwig also in Chicago, San Francisco and 2002 and 2004 in Seattle. won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actor) and Maggie Duerden (née Bartlett) – Yitzhak, The Angry Inch: Skszp – Steve Lockwood (bass and MD), Schlatko – Mark Dean (drums), Jacek – Michel Davis (guitar), Krzyzhtof – Tony Marchant (guitar), Hlava – Marcus Lane (keyboards)
In the summer of 2010, the show was staged at the George Square Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show was also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 at Greenside @ Royal Terrace by young company A Wicked Little Town with a positive reception.
On March 23, 2006, Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered at Metropol Wien in Vienna. (with Andreas Bieber – Hedwig and Anke Fiedler – Yitzak, Director and Costumedesign – Torsten Fischer, Hedwigs Band: Drums – Markus Adamer; Bass – Matthias Petereit – Guitar: Harry Peller – Guitar & Keyboards: – Bernhard Wagner), German Translation – Gerd Koester & Herbert Schaefer)
In August 2010, a Brazilian adaptation of Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered in Rio de Janeiro, with Paulo Vilhena and Pierre Baitelli playing Hedwig. This was the first adaptation where there were two actors simultaneously playing Hedwig onstage. The play was translated by Jonas Calmon Klabin and directed by Evandro Mesquita, with musical direction by Danilo Timm and Evandro Mesquita. Eline Porto played Yitzhak, Alexandre Griva on the drums, Fabrizio Iorio on the keyboards, Patrick Laplan on the bass, and Pedro Nogueira playing the guitar.
The musical previews ran from August 10 to September 3, 2010, and the full show ran from September 15 to November 6, 2010, totaling 46 performances.
The same production reopened in São Paulo on August 26, 2011, and ran until October 16, 2011, for a total of 25 performances, now with actors Pierre Baitelli and Felipe Carvalhido playing Hedwig. Eline Porto played Yitzhak, Diego Andrade on the drums, Fabrizio Iorio on the keyboards, Melvin Ribeiro on the bass, and Pedro Nogueira playing the guitar. Nominated for Best Actor (Pierre Baitelli) and Best Musical direction (Danilo Timm and Evandro Mesquita) at the Prêmio Shell de Teatro. Winner of Best Actor (Pierre Baitelli and nominated for Best Production (Oz), Best Director (Evandro Mesquita), and Best Actress (Eline Porto) at the Prêmio Arte Qualidade Brasil. Also, one nomination for Best Musical in a Brazilian adaptation for the Prêmio Contigo de Teatro.
This same production performed again in Rio de Janeiro from April 4–22, 2012, and a tour to Curitiba, performing April 26–29, 2012, for a total of 16 performances. On November 24, 2012, John Cameron Mitchell performed a concert with the Brazilian Hedwig cast and guests and there were another two performances of Hedwig in Rio, November 23 and 25, and 4 performances in Fortaleza, November 29, 30, December 1 and 2, 2012. There were another 7 performances scheduled for February 2014 in Brasilia and Recife, finalizing the Brazilian Hedwig project with a total of 100 performances.
The Canadian premiere was in 2001 in Toronto starring Ted Dykstra, with musical direction by Moe Berg of The Pursuit of Happiness.
The show premiered in Western Canada with simultaneous productions in Edmonton and Vancouver in April 2003. The Theatre Network production in Edmonton—directed by Bradley Moss and featuring Michael Scholar, Jr. as Hedwig and Rachael Johnston as Yitzhak—opened April 1 and was held over until April 27. In Vancouver, Hoarse Raven Theatre’s production, directed by Michael Fera, opened April 4 featuring Greg Armstrong-Morris as Hedwig and Meghan Gardiner as Yitzhak, and was held over until June 7. Further productions in Canada included a sold out 2007 production by Pickled Productions, and a 2009 Toronto production by Ghost Light Projects.
From October 2 through to November 2, 2013, Ghost Light Projects returned the production to Vancouver for a five-week engagement at The Cobalt. This production starred Ryan Alexander McDonald as Hedwig and Lee McKeown as Yitzhak, with music direction by Juno Award winner Mark Reid and direction by Randie Parliament and Greg Bishop.
In spring of 2011, English-language Prague theatre AKANDA staged Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Iron Curtain Club, with Jeff Fritz as Hedwig and Uliana Elina as Yitzhak.
Several productions were shown in Frankfurt/Main in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and Berlin in 2002, 2013 and 2014. A new production premiered in Bremen on June 19, 2014
- October 3, 2002 – November 20, 2002 – Glashaus der Arena Berlin (with Drew Sarich – Hedwig, Director: Rhys Martin)
- May 30, 2013 – August 31, 2013 Admiralspalast Klub (with Sven Ratzke – Hedwig, Guntbert Warns – Director)
- September 17, 2014 – September 20, 2014 BKA Theater of Berlin (with Sven Ratzke – Hedwig, Guntbert Warns – Director)
- February 25, 2014 – February 29, 2014 BKA Theater of Berlin (with Sven Ratzke – Hedwig, Guntbert Warns – Director)
- March 18, 2014 – March 21, 2014 BKA Theater of Berlin (with Sven Ratzke – Hedwig, Guntbert Warns – Director)
- February 19, 2015 – February 23, 2015 BKA Theater of Berlin (with Sven Ratzke – Hedwig, Guntbert Warns – Director)
- March 19, 2015 – March 23, 2015 BKA Theater of Berlin (with Sven Ratzke – Hedwig, Guntbert Warns – Director)
- October 18, 2016 – October 22, 2016 BKA Theater of Berlin (with Sven Ratzke – Hedwig, Guntbert Warns – Director)
- November 16, 2016 – November 20, 2016 BKA Theater of Berlin (with Sven Ratzke – Hedwig, Guntbert Warns – Director)
- November 8, 2016 – November 13, 2016 Schmidts Tivoli (with Sven Ratzke – Hedwig, Guntbert Warns – Director)
- February 2008 (with Nigel Francis – Hedwig)
- November 20, 2009 – December 20, 2009 – Sinkkasten
- November 20, 2010 – January 8, 2011 – Nachtleben
- August 19, 2011 – August 21, 2011 – Neues Theater Hoechst (with Nigel Francis – Hedwig and Diana Nagel – Yitzak)
- On September 22, 2017, a new production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, directed by Thomas Helmut Heep and starring Michael Kargus as Hedwig, Kathrin Hanak as Yitzhak, and Lukas Witzel as alternate Hedwig, opened at the 200-seat venue Brotfabrik in Frankfurt.
- On June 19, 2014, a German adaptation of Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered at Schwankhalle in Bremen, with actors Pascal Nöldner as Hedwig and Birgit Corinna Lange as Yitzhak. Carsten Sauer (keyboard), Denni Fischer (bass), Keule (guitar), and Norman Karlsen (drums) were in the band. The director was Nomena Struß. There were 12 performances, with a public rehearsal on June 11, 2014.
In May 2020, Hedwig and the Angry Inch was planned to make its Israeli premiere at the Cinema City Theatre, in Hebrew and with Roi Dolev as Hedwig, and featuring wigs by original Broadway wig designer Mike Potter. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the production to postpone its opening. Shortly after, the production released a single recorded in quarantine, which was praised by author Stephen Trask as “one of the best Wicked Little Town versions ever.” On August 9, 2020, the production announced its intentions to present pre-premiere performances for small, socially distanced audiences, beginning October 2020. However, in January 2021, Dolev revealed the production is still in limbo due to Israel entering a second and third quarantines, not allowing public performances to occur. In March 2021, the production began pre-premiere performances, thus marking it the first musical production in Israel to resume performing following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Italian Premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch by britisch Atrocity Tour in 2004:
- November 3–14, 2004 at Teatro Ariberto, Milan
with original Atrocity Tour-Cast, produced by Alessio Rombolotti in association with Helen Merill NYC, Simone Stucchi – Sound Engineer
Production of the musical started on June 16, 2005, at Parco Theater, with a translation by Aoi Yoji, starring Hiroshi Mikami and Emi Eleonola.
On February 15, 2007, a new on-stage version was released, starting at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo, translation by Kitamaru Yuji and starring Koji Yamamoto.
April 4, 2008 saw a reprise, with Koji Yamamoto in the lead, again at the Shinjuku Face in Tokyo, spanning even more venues than the previous year.
2009 saw a two-city run, in November 27 at the Wel City in Osaka, and December 2 till the 6th at Tokyo’s Zepp Tokyo.
After 3 years, in 2012, Hedwig got a new opportunity, starting September 28, at Zepp DiverCity Tokyo, with Mirai Moriyama in the lead, and the lyrics translated by Shikao Suga.
A new edition of the musical started August 31, 2019, at Tokyo Ex Theater Roppongi, with Neko Oikawa’s lyrics, Kenji Urai as the main character, and Avu Barazono as Yitzhak; and with DURAN (Gt), YUTARO (Ba), Kusunose Takuya (Dr), Hideyuki Ohashi (Gt), Akane Otsuka (Key) as members of the band THE ANGRY INCH.
In April 2011, the show was staged in San Miguel de Allende and was presented in both English and Spanish simultaneously. It was also staged as a special event at the Guanajuato Film Festival. This production won the Best of San Miguel Theatre Award for 2011.
In June 2017, the play was presented once again in Zacapu, Michoacán de Ocampo, under the initiative of promoting LGBTQ+ culture and rights, and this time it was entirely in Spanish. The function was carried out by an independent theater group, in collaboration with the rock band: Karma, and also coincided with the Festival: Tianguis Multicultural del Bajío 2017, thus achieving a full house in a one-time, non-profit function.
In June 2014, Sven Ratzke (as Hedwig) brought the Berlin Production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch for a three-week run to Amsterdam (location: De Kleine Komedie), Utrecht (Stadsschouwburg Utrecht) and Eindhoven (Parktheater Eindhoven). The show got rave reviews in the Netherlands.
In May 2019, Hedwig and the Angry Inch makes its New Zealand premiere at Christchurch’s The Court Theatre with Adam Rennie taking the lead role.
The show was put on by the Bangkok University Theatre Company in July, 2011. It was then put on again in Mongkol RCA Studio in June, 2014. In both productions, Hedwig was played by Chanudol Suksatit.
The Turkish premiere was in 2016 in Istanbul featuring Yilmaz Sutcu as Hedwig and Ayse Gunyuz as Yitzhak, with direction by Baris Arman at Kazan Dairesi.
The Signature Theatre in the Washington DC area produced the show in 2002.
In 2002 and 2003, Zany Hijinx produced the show in Boston, MA with Gene Dante as Hedwig and Lisa Boucher as Yitzhak.
Puerto Rico: In the summer of 2010, Hedwig and the Angry Inch played in San Juan, Puerto Rico with Gil René playing the part of Hedwig and the band Simples Mortales doing all the live music. This version of Hedwig was completely translated into Spanish.
In 2011, Gene Dante and Lisa van Oosterum reprise their roles as Hedwig and Yitzhak in Zany Hijinx’s New England tour of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
A San Francisco production at Boxcar Theatre in summer 2012 featured twelve actors, male and female and of multiple ethnicities, portraying Hedwig in each show. A revival of the production, beginning in December 2012 and continuing through August 2013, featured eight actors nightly in the lead role.
In June 2013 JJ Parkey and Ruthie Stephens played Hedwig and Yitzhak at the Short North Stage Production in Columbus, Ohio.
After a successful 2013 run and a New Year’s Eve performance, Roxy Theatricals presented the production from January 17 to February 1, 2014, at The Legacy Theatre in Springfield, IL.
The show was produced by TheatreLAB and Spin, Spit & Swear in Richmond, Virginia in October 2014. Matt Shofner starred as Hedwig and Bianca Bryan played Yitzhak.
Neil Patrick Harris starred in the first Broadway production at the Belasco Theatre, which began previews on March 29, 2014, and officially opened on April 22, 2014. Harris stayed in the production through August 17, 2014. The director was Michael Mayer with musical staging by Spencer Liff. Lena Hall played Yitzhak, Hedwig’s husband, until April 2015. This production won several Tony awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Lead Actor in a Musical (Harris) and Best Featured Actress in a musical (Hall). It was also nominated for Best Costume Design for a Musical (Arianne Phillips), who also did the costumes for the original 2001 film.
After Harris departed the production, Andrew Rannells took over the role of Hedwig on August 20, 2014, followed by Michael C. Hall, who played Hedwig from October 16, 2014, through January 18, 2015. The production then featured co-creator John Cameron Mitchell, who returned to the role from January 21 to April 26, 2015. Darren Criss took over the role of Hedwig on April 29 and played until July 19, 2015. Taye Diggs assumed the role on July 22, 2015, and performed through the production’s end on September 13, 2015.
The Broadway production closed on September 13, 2015, after 22 previews and 507 regular performances.
Hurt Locker: The Musical
This version of the musical updates the story to modern day and has Hedwig performing on the abandoned set of the fictional Hurt Locker: The Musical, which closed the prior evening midway through its first performance. Hedwig explains that because it closed so quickly, she was able to convince one of the producers to allow her to use what would have been an otherwise empty and unused stage. Faux Playbills for the musical are littered throughout the theater and discuss various elements of the musical, which Hedwig occasionally mentions offhand throughout the musical. Director Michael Mayer stated that they came up with the idea for Hurt Locker: The Musical as a way to explain Hedwig’s presence in a Broadway theater. It was also used as a way to update the script to modern day as well as explain how Hedwig would be able to use such stage settings. Various newspapers have commented favorably on the faux Playbills, both as an element of the musical and as a piece separate from the musical itself.
First U.S. Tour
A national tour of the 2014 Broadway production began at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre on October 4, 2016, starring Darren Criss as Hedwig and Lena Hall as Yitzhak respectively. Hall portrayed the title role of Hedwig once a week for eight performances, making her the first actor to play both Hedwig and Yitzhak in the same production. Hall and Criss ended their run on November 27, 2016.
From November 29, 2016, to July 2, 2017, Euan Morton and Hannah Corneau portrayed Hedwig and Yitzhak, respectively, with Mason Alexander Park continuing on as the Hedwig Standby/Alternate and Shannon Conley as the Yitzhak standby.
20th Anniversary Origin of Love Tour
In 2019 John Cameron Mitchell created and starred in The Origin of Love Tour: The Songs and Stories of Hedwig, a stripped down performance focusing on the music and first-person stories about the creation of the original off-Broadway production. Mitchell embarked on the tour to raise money for medical costs related to his mother, who suffers from late-stage Alzheimer’s. In addition to songs from Hedwig, the show also includes numbers from Mitchell’s musical podcast Anthem: Homunculus, his film How to Talk to Girls at Parties, and covers from artists like David Bowie.
ADAPTATION AND POPULAR CULTURE
In 2001, John Cameron Mitchell adapted, directed and starred in a film adaptation of the musical, also named Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
In 2020, the television series Riverdale based their musical episode from the fourth season titled “Chapter Seventy-Four: Wicked Little Town” on Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
THEMES AND ANALYSIS
The musical explores queer identity and challenges the notion of rock culture as being separate from live theatre. It adds to the increasing number of mainstream films and media that questions dichotomous views on sex and gender. Hedwig and the Angry Inch also provides a space for openly queer performers in this alternative theatre movement and punk subculture that is often labelled as queercore. Instead of a conventional transgender narrative that looks at an individual’s account of gender dysphoria, Hedwig and the Angry Inch focuses on the main character’s journey of finding love “by looking within.” Academics have also recognised the link between Hedwig’s search for her ‘other half’ and Plato’s ‘Origin of Love’, one of Hedwig’s numbers. In league with the Western emphasis on individualism, Hedwig and the Angry Inch questions what it means to be divided in an individualist society. As Mitchell, director of the film adaptation, acknowledges, through recurring motifs of “the divided self, the divided city of Berlin…divided gender…” the theme of dualism pervades the entire musical. Yet Hedwig ultimately disavows this notion of external completion, instead bolstering a pro-Western ideology of individual autonomy that contributes to a global naturalisation of Western philosophy.
The musical was praised by Rolling Stone as the first rock musical to “truly rock”. The show also attracted many fans in the music world. The show’s authenticity, and its use of characters outside the usual hetero-normative constraints of theatre, was also remarked upon.
AWARDS AND HONORS
The 2014 Broadway production received eight 2014 Tony Award nominations: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Neil Patrick Harris), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Lena Hall), Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Julian Crouch), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Arianne Phillips), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams), Best Sound Design of a Musical (Tim O’Heir) and Best Direction of a Musical. The production won four Tony Awards (tied with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder for most awards in 2014): Best Revival of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Lena Hall, and Best Actor in a Musical for Neil Patrick Harris.
ORIGINAL 1998 OFF-BROADWAY PRODUCTION
|Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical||John Cameron Mitchell||Stephen Trask||Best Revival of a Musical||Best Leading Actor in a Musical||Neil Patrick Harris||Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Lena Hall||Best Lighting Design of a Musical||Kevin Adams||Best Costume Design of a Musical||Arianne Phillips||Best Direction of a Musical||Michael Mayer||Best Scenic Design of a Musical||Julian Crouch||Best Sound Design of a Musical||Timothy O’Heir||Drama Desk Awards||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Neil Patrick Harris||Drama League Awards||Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Show||Distinguished Performance||Neil Patrick Harris||Lena Hall||Outer Critics Circle Awards||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Outstanding Lighting Design (Play or Musical)||Kevin Adams||Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Neil Patrick Harris||2017||Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award||Featured Performance||Lena Hall||Nominated|
|Lead Performance||Darren Criss||Nominated|
- 1998 Original off-Broadway Cast
- 2000 Movie Soundtrack
- 2002 “Wig” Cleveland Public Theatre Cast
- 2003 Wig in a Box (tribute album)
- 2004 UK Atrocity Tour cast
- 2005 Original Korean Cast
- 2005 Peruvian Cast (Hedwig Y la Pulgada Furiosa)
- 2006 Korean Cast
- 2006 Original Australian Cast
- 2014 Original Broadway Cast
In 2003, Chris Slusarenko’s Off Records released an album called Wig in a Box, a charity tribute album which also included new material adding to the mythology of Hedwig. Performers included Frank Black and The Breeders. Slusarenko said that he fielded questions from Kim Deal of The Breeders about Black, her former bandmate in The Pixies, with whom she’d had limited conversation since the band’s breakup in 1993. They made contact soon after, and Pixies reunited the following spring. Other bands who participated in “Wig in a Box” were Yo La Tengo featuring Yoko Ono, Sleater-Kinney featuring Fred Schneider (of The B-52’s), Jonathan Richman, Rufus Wainwright, Polyphonic Spree, Spoon, Imperial Teen, Bob Mould, Cyndi Lauper with The Minus Five (featuring Peter Buck of R.E.M.), The Bens (Ben Folds, Ben Lee and Ben Kweller), They Might Be Giants and Robyn Hitchcock. Trask and Mitchell completed an unfinished Tommy Gnosis song (left over from the musical’s development days) called “Milford Lake” (sung by Mitchell) and included it. The CD also features comedian Stephen Colbert reciting the spoken introduction to Tear Me Down. The profits of this album benefitted The Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the Harvey Milk High School, a New York City public school for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth who have experienced discrimination and violence in other public schools or at home and are at risk of not completing their secondary education.
“Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig”, a documentary about the making of the “Wig in a Box” benefit cd, profiled students from the Harvey Milk School. It was directed by Katherine Linton and produced by the Sundance Channel and is now available on DVD.
The gothic metal band Type O Negative covered “Angry Inch” on their 2003 album Life Is Killing Me.
Meat Loaf covered “Tear Me Down” that same year on his album Couldn’t Have Said It Better, modifying some of the lyrics (notably the spoken section about the Berlin Wall) so that the song is instead about Texas and Meat Loaf’s own life.
One of the bonus tracks of Damn Skippy, “Pirate In A Box” by Lemon Demon, is a parody of Wig In a Box.
Ben Jelen covered Hedwig’s version of “Wicked Little Town” on his 2004 album Give It All Away.
Future Kings of Spain covered “Angry Inch” for the b-side of their 2003 single, “Hanging Around”.
The Brazilian glam band Star 61 covered “Angry Inch” with lyrics in Portuguese (Polegada Irada) for their first 2005 demo album.
Dar Williams, who is a college friend of composer Stephen Trask, covered “Midnight Radio” on her 2008 album Promised Land.
Constantine Maroulis covered “Midnight Radio” on his debut solo album, Constantine, in 2007.
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HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hedwig and the Angry Inch musical, Hedwig, Genderqueer, Stephen Trask, John Cameron Mitchell, Micheal Cerveris, Neil Patrick Harris, Lena Hall, Darren Criss, Andrew Rannells, Taye Diggs, Michael C Hall, Ally Sheedy, Euan Morton