It’s hard to believe that almost 20 years have passed since John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s ground-breaking, genre-bending, glam-rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch first emerged, but the irreverent concert-style show still manages to shock and awe decades later in its National Tour, taking The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater by storm.
Following a magnificent, multi Tony Award winning 2014-15 Broadway run, including one for its star, Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig is traveling cross country with Tony and Oliver Award-nominated Euan Morton embodying the title role of an East Berlin-born transgendered rocker who chronicles an epic life quest for love and identity with renewed zing and pronounced intensity.
Smartly staged and flexibly structured at the helm of Tony Award-winning Director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot) with topical humor (including a Melania Trump joke) and localized geographical references (with specific mentions of Bethesda, the H-Street corridor and Dupont Circle), Morton’s Hedwig is acutely self-aware, explosively engaging, yet inflamingly introspective, which is highlighted in confessional dialogue and punctuated by Trask’s pervasive score (ranging from ballads like “The Origin of Love” and “Wicked Little Town” to more punk raves like “Sugar Daddy” and a revamped “Angry Inch”), with acknowledgements to Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Iggy Pop and David Bowie, lustrously performed by the marvelous musicians of The Angry Inch (Justin Craig, Matt Duncan, Peter Yanowitz, Dylan Fusillo and Tim Mislock).
Counterbalancing Hedwig’s over-the-top persona was Yitzhak, Hedwig’s forlorn husband and faithful sidekick, powerfully played by Hannah Corneau who reveals her transformative vocal and emotional prowess as the production progresses. Though serving as Hedwig’s backup singer for most of the musical, Corneau’s Yitzhak serves a compelling contrast to Morton’s predominating presence.
Innovative, edgy and salacious, Hedwig is not well-suited for the faint of heart (or visible latecomers sitting in orchestra); as in 1998, it pushes the envelope and test boundaries with brazen boldness and fresh perspective, which stretches and pulls.
Running Time: Approximately two hours with no intermission.