Nora Dominick ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
“Whether you like it or not, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Cheers, screams, and even crying echoes throughout the Belasco Theatre in NYC as Neil Patrick Harris takes the stage as the transgender rocker, Hedwig. There is no denying it, Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall are forces to be reckoned with in this revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a musical that tells the story of Hedwig, a transgender woman from East Berlin. She has brought her one night only concert to the Belasco Theatre in NYC. Hedwig tells the story of her band “The Angry Inch,” her botched sex change operation, and the loves of her life through stories and songs. With music and lyric by Stephen Trask and a book by John Cameron Mitchell, this Broadway production features Broadway hits like “Sugar Daddy”, “The Origins of Love”, “Wig in a Box” and ‘Midnight Radio.”*
The original production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered off-Broadway in 1998 starring the musical’s writer John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig. The show was an immediate success gaining a cult-like following. It even received the 1998 Outer Critics Choice Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical. The musical then reached an entirely different audience in the 2001 movie adaptation which also starred Mitchell in the titular role. Now, the show has emigrated to Broadway and is inspiring a new generation of fans.
Besides the general plotline of the show, most of dialogue between Hedwig and the audience is improvised. This creates a one-on-one experience between the actors and the audience, which is very exciting, and through this Neil Patrick Harris solidifies his rank as one of the great Broadway actors of this generation. His comedic timing is flawless as he interacts with the audience. Coming off a legendary run as infamous NYC playboy Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother, Harris has traded the suits for a fabulous pair of gold stilettos. He is barely recognizable as he commands the stage as Hedwig. His performance is exceptional and even earned him a standing ovation at the end of the show for “Midnight Radio.” The musical number featured on this year’s Tony Awards, “Sugar Daddy,” was also a crowd favorite. Harris launches off the stage and engages with the audience. The entire audience sat in awe of Harris as he kissed, licked, and sat on audience members. All eyes locked on him. His renditions of Hedwig and the Angry Inch classics like “Angry Inch,” “The Origins of Love,” “Wig in a Box,” and “Midnight Radio” breathe new life into the cult classics. Harris’ portrayal of Hedwig even earned him his first Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical this year.
Harris may be the box office draw however; Lena Hall’s portrayal of Yitzhak is one for the ages. Hall has transformed into Yitzhak, Hedwig’s cross-dressing band mate and husband. Yitzhak acts as Hedwig’s roadie, however he yearns to dress as a woman and perform on stage. The abusive relationship between Hedwig and Yitzhak is portrayed flawlessly by Harris and Hall. The duo has chemistry on stage that is unmatched. If anyone is able to upstage Harris, it’s Ms. Hall. Her transformation earned her a well deserved 2014 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.
If you manage to take your eyes off of Harris and Hall for a split second, take in the magnificent lighting and set design by Kevin Adams and Julian Crouch, respectively. The lighting design of the show feels like it’s own character. Adams took home the 2014 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design that was very well deserved. The black lights, electrifying hot pinks and blues used create an electrifying and glamorous atmosphere. Adam’s Tony-Award-winning skills really shine during the number “The Origins of Love.” A scrim drops down and the animations used in the 2001 movie for the song are projected onto the scrim. This moment is a masterpiece and a highlight of the musical.
With destroyed set pieces from the Broadway flop, “Hurt Locker: The Musical” that inhabits the Belasco the night before Hedwig and the Angry Inch takes the stage, the set transports the audience out of Broadway and into a rock n’ roll venue. The massive, destroyed car is the central element of the set and proves a perfect spot for Harris to be raised up in front of his adoring crowd.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is currently playing at the Belasco Theatre in NYC. Neil Patrick Harris will play his final performance on August 17, 2014. Girls star and Broadway vet Andrew Rannells will step into the high heels beginning on August 20 through October 12th. Hurry up and get your tickets to the hottest show in town.
* An earlier version of this article did not properly attribute the summary to Broadway.com