BWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at the Kennedy Center

BWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at the Kennedy Center

What do you say when you just saw one of the greatest performances you have ever seen on stage? It's a tour-de-force? It's monumental?

After you see Euan Morton's' performance as "Hedwig" you will understand.

I first became acquainted with the Scottish actor when he performed as "Boy George" in the musical TABOO. He got nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. There is also a nice video available about Broadway which features him about his performance. The DVD is called "Show Business - The Road to Broadway." Completed in 2007 it features behind the scenes about four shows from the 2003 Broadway season including AVENUE Q, WICKED, CAROLINE OR CHANGE, and TABOO. It has some great interviews featuring Morton and others. It's a great treasure for musical buffs.

It has been such a pleasure watching Morton's career. I have been so fortunate to watch him do a cabaret performance at Baltimore's Center Stage and the Kennedy Center. In 2010 he was in the Signature Theatre's wonderful CHESS, and in 2011 he starred as Leo Frank in PARADE at the Ford's Theatre for which he won a Helen Hayes Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

When I saw that he would be taking over the leading role of "Hedwig" for the national tour in November, 2016, I had great anticipation about his visit to the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theatre.

I had seen the original production (thanks to the recommendation of my son Justin) at the tiny Jane Street Theatre Off-Broadway in 1998 which featured book-writer John Cameron Mitchell in the leading role and the composer Stephen Trask on the keyboards. It was amazing. I even bought the CD and poster.

But nothing prepared me for the incomparable performance of Mr. Morton as "Hedwig". His voice somehow rocks like a rock star, then he croons the beautiful (and I mean beautiful) ballads, his humor is infectious, and the way he works the audience is just plain hilarious. If you sit in the front row, be prepared. After the show at the stage door I met the patron who caught "the shroud of Hedwig" Matt Nicola of Silver Spring and Katie Beahm from Alexandria who caught his sunglasses.

You will never ever forget this performance.

So who is "Hedwig"? He was born in communist East Berlin. It is about his transformation from a male performer to a female performer but a botched sex change operation leaves him with an "inch". Thus, "Hedwig" becomes a female singer, creates a rock group called "The Angry Inch" (you now know why) and tours the United States.

Making her national tour debut is the wonderful Hannah Corneau at Yitzhak, Hedwig's sidekick who is extraordinary in a complex role. She has a great future ahead of her.

Director Michael Mayer directed the 2014 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival and repeats that task here. What an amazing undertaken this must have been and he deserves kudos for his work.

The show basically is a concert with an incredible mind-blowing light show by Lighting Designer Julian Crouch (who did the original Off-Broadway production and got a Tony for the 2014 Broadway production). AriAnne Phillips designed the rock costumes which she did for the 2001 film.

The concert takes place on a set from a Broadway show that lasted only one performance called THE HURT LOCKER. The set (by Julian Crouch) includes a blown up car, a Gremlin. The Sound Designer is Tim O'Heir who must deal with the perpetual problems of acoustics at the Eisenhower Theater.

The show requires a terrific group of musicians and they are fabulous: Justin Craig (Music Director and Keyboards), Matt Duncan (Guitar and Keyboards), Dylan Fusillo (Drums and Vocals), and Tim Mislock (Guitar and Vocals)

I noticed there's a lyric in the song "Sugar Daddy" that mentions Helmut Kohl. What a coincidence the former architect of German unification at the end of the Cold War and former Chancellor of Germany passed away just last week.

I hope you get a chance to see this spectacular performance.

HEDWIG continues until July 2. For tickets, call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

THIS AND THAT

What a summer for musicals in the Baltimore/Washington area. At the Kennedy Center you can see THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE KING AND I and CABARET.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR has been extended at the Signature Theatre until July 9. Next will be A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC opening Aug. 15.

There is RENT at the National Theatre.

URINETOWN, THE MUSICAL ends June 25 at NextStop Theatre Company.

MY FAIR LADY opens this week-end at the Olney Theatre Center followed by IN THE HEIGHTS opening Sept. 6.

FINDING NEVERLAND adds John Davidson to its cast beginning Tuesday, June 27 at the Hippodrome.

At Toby's Dinner Theatre there is JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT followed by DREAMGIRLS.

MAMMA MIA! comes to Wolf Trap July 18 and 19.

For outdoor musicals head to the Annapolis Summer Garden which has THE FULL MONTY and later IN THE HEIGHTS. Also in Annapolis is ALWAYS PATSY CLINE and GODSPELL.

Catch the Tony-winning Broadway musical BANDSTAND on "Good Morning America", Tuesday morning, June 27 during the 8:30 a.m. half-hour.

I noticed the name Corey Cott on a PBS "Masterpiece" program from England about World War II entitled "My Mother and Other Strangers" and sure enough Corey is the star of the Tony-winning musical BANDSTAND. He gets around!

One of the best kept secrets on Broadway is the free Broadway shows playing at Bryant Park each Thursday beginning July 6 until August 10 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

On July 6: STOMP, GROUNDHOG DAY, WICKED and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

On July 13: KINKY BOOTS, BEAUTIFUL, SCHOOL OF ROCK, and SOULPEPPER.

On July 20: WAITRESS, CHICAGO, CATS, SPAMILTON.

On July 27: A BRONX TALE, ANASTASIA, AVENUE Q, and THE IMBIBLE.

On August 3: MISS SAIGON, NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812, and BROADWAY DREAMS.

On August 10, COME FROM AWAY, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, BANDSTAND, and CURVEY WIDOW.

Finally, I was fortunate to catch on Maryland Public Television a one hour special entitled "Young Artists of America: The Songs of Tim Rice". It featured the music of librettist Rice and his comments on his work. The high school students who perform vocally are superb as is the orchestra. Founded by the brothers Rolando and Kristofer Sanz, the group performed at Strathmore Hall in Bethesda.

Baltimore's own Emily Reed (Baltimore School for the Arts) excels singing solos from EVITA and CHESS. The concert is available for streaming.

cgshubow@broadwayworld.com


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From This Author Charles Shubow

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