Photo of Darren Criss at Hedwig by Joan Marcus
The fervor of Tony Awards season has waned, and new theater options on the Great White Way (and elsewhere around New York City) are a little sparse. Yet, even though there aren't as many opportunities to take in something brand new right now, there are plenty of reasons to return to an "old" favorite. May I suggest Hedwig and the Angry Inch? We are ravenous fans of the show, and we definitely think you should be too. Here are 5 reasons why you should, nay must, spend your summer nights at the Belasco Theater.
1. Rebecca Naomi Jones
The best thing about her portrayal of Yitzhak is that she is not Lena Hall, nor is she trying to be a carbon copy of Hall's legendary take on the character. Jones wet her feet in the role opposite John Cameron Mitchell (Talk about a trial by fire, no?), and her Yitzhak is beautifully nuanced and vastly interesting. Yet, his presence is much more noticeable than Hall's was in performance. Yes he cowers away from Hedwig to avoid her ire, but Jones' take on the character is not as browbeaten while still being undeniably broken. Both women characterized Yitzhak with a resilient spirit, giving the finale a wonderful pay off, but the differences between their takes on the part are both fascinating and satisfying.
2. Darren Criss
He may only be 28, but this guy has had a legendary career already. Albeit I stopped watching Glee (sorry Gleeks, but the show never got better than its mid-season finale in Season 1) about the time Blaine was introduced, I knew that Criss had massive star potential. Spring boarding off of Glee and onto Broadway as Daniel Radcliffe's replacement in the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, he sealed the deal. Now, he's rocking Broadway as Hedwig! His take on the character paints the rocker as a Broadway fangirl who knows her stage history, but he also works in that hardened exterior when spitting water onto the audience, licking people's face, and consistently upstaging Yitzhak.
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Whether a Hedwig is good or bad, we'll still be there. Why? Because collecting Hedwig Playbills with each new cast member is like collecting Pokemon. You gotta catch 'em all! With that said, we have no doubt in our minds that Taye Diggs will make an excellent Hedwig when he takes over the role July 22, 2015. I for one am really excited to hear his soulful instrument on theses iconic songs. I'm hoping that Diggs infuses the vocals with a more bluesy edge, giving us something distinctly different as he wails his way through the throaty rock score. Only time can tell, but I'm certain we will be anything but disappointed. It'll also be really neat to see how his onstage chemistry with Jones' Yitzhak evolves her characterization of Hedwig's lackey.
4. Tits of Clay
Justin Craig, Matt Duncan, Tim Mislock, and Peter Yanowitz fill every performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch with electrifying energy. They take the stage with charisma as the crowd goes wild. And while some of those excited screams come from anticipating seeing whomever is in the titular role descend from the ceiling, a majority of those opening screams are for them. We all know there wouldn't be a show without the band Tits of Clay performing as The Angry Inch every night, and we're thankful that they kill it every performance. And since they never sleep, don't forget to check out their gigs away from the Belasco, too. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more information.
5.This show ALWAYS Feels New
Because Hedwig and the Angry Inch is scripted to be a rock concert, the show is never the same twice. A mic cord will be in a different place, a mic stand will break, a new improvisation will be used, the audience will react differently, a vocal cue will be missed, or any other number of random things may happen. Each and every one of these reasons will always keep the show feeling fresh and brand new. Certainly, we'll always get to follow the bouncing testicles and sing along to "Wig in a Box," but every night the cast and crew discover new layers to this show and they all grow from it. It'd be impossible to faithfully replicate one performance, so go see and enjoy a show that's celebrating its second Broadway summer but can truly never be the same show twice.
Visit Hedwig on Broadwayfor more information and tickets.