Boy meats girl
Blue Room struts into spring with invigorating rock musical
If you plan to see only one play about a transsexual, East German rock ‘n’ roll singer with abandonment issues this year, do yourself a favor and make it to the Blue Room’s current production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
The back story is told in a series of monologues and flashbacks from the stage: Young, gorgeous East German boy Hansel meets generous American G.I., has crude and partially successful sex change operation in order to marry, moves to the States with G.I. husband and winds up divorced and living in a trailer park in Kansas.
These less-than-rosy circumstances contribute to the hothouse flowering of downtrodden and confused Hansel into the dynamic rock ‘n’ roll singer Hedwig, played with an absolutely eye-popping mélange of bravado, pathos and humor by a gorgeously costumed, made-up and bewigged Matt Hammons.
Backing Hedwig is a fine glam-rock band, the Angry Inch, led by guitarist Skzshp (Maurice Spencer) supported by Schlatko (Clint Bear) on drums, Jacek (Mark Woodruff) on bass and Krzyzta (Allison Rich) on piano. Hedwig’s drag queen spouse, Yitzak (Gina Henson Tropea), provides backing vocals to the songs and occasional profane commentary to Hedwig’s monologues.
Woven into the sordid and comic story of Hedwig the rocker is the personal history and private mythology of the person beneath the wig. Playwright John Cameron Mitchell and composer/ lyricist Stephen Trask have crafted the narrative and songs to present Hedwig as a fully sympathetic character, balancing female and male aspects with a universal humanity that transcends both. And besides being filled with great songs, Hedwig is genuinely funny.
Director Jeremy Votava, who also did the set and lighting design, has created the ambiance of an intimate rock ‘n’ roll cabaret, with seats spread across what would normally be front stage and the action taking place on a small elevated bandstand and runway. By the triumphal finale, which on opening night concluded with a very sincere standing ovation, the cabaret becomes a (fan) club.