note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (playing at New Repertory Theatre Black Box thru Nov. 22nd) is actually a rock concert with monologues to set up each number. John Cameron Mitchell’s “text” follows Hedwig’s search for identity from East German repression to trailer park oppression in the good old U.S.A. BUT the music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, not the text, are what make HEDWIG rock big-time. (Like the Kinks’ "Lola", Hedwig was born a “he.” The “angry inch” is what’s left after the botched surgery.)
Trask’s music is what carries the show, from the gorgeous “Follow my Voice” to the pounding punk rhythms of the title anthem to the plaintive “Put on Some Makeup [and turn back into myself].” Here’s the irony: You can hear every single word of the pretentious banter but it’s not possible to make out all of Trask’s searing lyrics over the fabulous din of the music. If you’re a Hedwig fan, that’s OK because you already know the lyrics but if this is your first Hedwig experience, you’re missing the best bits. My advice is to listen to the CD beforehand to get the full impact of the music.
Kevin Mark Kline’s smart production for Blue Spruce features Danny Bryck as Hedwig and A. Tully as Hedwig’s sidekick/husband, backed by Emeen Z and the Hot Protestants. Bryck has a remarkable range, sounding as sweet as David Bowie in “Sun in your Eyes” and punk rough defiant on “Born on the Outside.” The band has a sleek, muscular sound anchored by Joe Cutrufo on drums. If you remember the Rat from its safety pinned heyday in the ‘80s, this show will bring it all back to you.