Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
American Theatre Company

This piece is not for the fair of heart – or even for the theatre faint of heart. This is a rock-n-roll concert concerning the life of a man whose sex change operation allowed his to flee East Germany but ended up botched and burdening him with other things through her life. The story really falls apart past that. The whole thing is essentially a one man rock musical telling his life’s story. But in the end, that is not the point. It is the experience of hearing this story and watching the break down of a human being who finally finds some sort of redemption from within.

Nick Garrison turns in a truly transcendental performance as Hedwig. Don’t let the fact that he’s been playing the role for nearly ten years set your expectations too high. Don’t let the fact that he has already won his Jeff Award for this role in 2001 focus your expectations for the performance. He will blow you away with his range between penchant for delivering utterly enjoyable humor to reaching deep into those ugly emotions that we hope to steer clear of in our lives. While often shocking and in-your-face, his story never assaults you the audience and will haunt you as you leave the theatre. And did I mention that he can sing? And did I mention that when you leave the theatre after the 8:00 pm show, he is preparing to go on again at 11?

Garrison is supported by a truly talented band. Their performance, musicality, and sound is nothing short of tremendous. They are also remarkably well mixed for a live performance – never too loud, but always perfectly balanced as well. The night I saw the performance, I saw Alanda Coon performing as the understudy for Sadieh Rifai. One would not be able to tell as she turned in a stunning performance as well. All of this took place again the backdrop of the ingenious scenic design of Keith Pitts who created a club-like atmosphere will all the subtleties and details that contains.

This play has done a wonderful job adding Chicago flavor (references to Martyr's, Boys Town, and Lake Shore Drive) along with Hedwig wearing an Obama T-shirt/dress. If you are looking for a unique theatre experience that you will never forget, make sure you check out Hedwig and the Angry Inch before it closes.

Happy Birthday: J.M. Barrie (1860-1937), John Howard Payne (1791-1852), George Axelrod (1922-2003) & Cole Porter (1891-1964)

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