BWW Interview: From the Carlyle to California- Lena Hall Prepares for Her HEDWIG Return!

BWW Interview: From the Carlyle to California- Lena Hall Prepares for Her HEDWIG Return!Tony-winner and Grammy nominee Lena Hall returns to Café Carlyle with Oh! You Pretty Things, running through June 25. The all-new show acts as a love letter to Lena's rock & roll spirit guides, the pantheon of misfits and rebels who inspired us to transcend by transforming themselves. This intimate journey through Lena's personal love life will reveal how pivotal these artists have been in helping her navigate her relationships, shining like beacons and helping her shape her voice and her identity, again and again. At Café Carlyle, Lena Hall will be joined by a band including Justin Craig, Watt White and Brian Fishler. Oh! You Pretty Things is directed by Stephen Amato.

BroadwayWorld's Richard Ridge caught up with Lena on her sensational opening night.

You have just gotten off stage from your opening night performance here at the Café Carlyle. What was tonight like for you?

It was really good. I was very excited about the show. It was very therapeutic.

How did you put this new act together?

I had just gone through a breakup when the Carlyle asked me to do this show and usually I like to just go with whatever is on my mind and that was strongly on my mind. So I started thinking about my past relationships, and about how music is so connected to these specific people, and how I hear a specific song and how it brings back a memory of that person - either a good memory or bad memory- and that's sort of how it all came about. I also picked the most significant people in my life and I did a show about them basically.

BWW Interview: From the Carlyle to California- Lena Hall Prepares for Her HEDWIG Return!So do you realize that you had all of your breakups to classic rock?

[Laughs] Yes, I did! Richard that's a great observation. That's very important to know.

David Bowie, Elton John, The Sex Pistols?

Oh yeah! The Sex Pistols! that's so funny because they were really a strong part of my childhood growing up, because not only was my sister a punk rocker and I heard it through her, but my mom was in a dance company called "Dance Through Time" and they did a punk rock number to their song "Holiday in The Sun." So that's why I always have a Sex Pistols connection- because they were really prominent in my life.

And rocking out in the Café Carlyle?

I love it. I think it's fun to bring a new energy and a new vibe into the room. For sure I am the first person to do a Sex Pistols song in the room! I think as far we are concerned, the story telling and the singing and just the way we are as a band we still fit in the room very well. It's not like we are outdoing the room or anything, but I think we compliment it.

This is not your first time playing the Café Carlyle. You sold out your first run and returned with one of your Hedwig stars, Michael C. Hall. So what's it like playing this iconic room?

I love it here. I am always happy when they ask me to come back. It was my very first cabaret act that I did here, so I like to change it up every single time so that I do something new for people to see and they will get a new insight into my life and to my musical taste and to where my voice came from.

Now this October you are getting ready to hit the road with the national tour of Hedwig and The Angry Inch with your friend Darren Criss. Not only will you be playing your Tony Award winning role of Yitzhak, but also taking on the role of Hedwig once a week?

BWW Interview: From the Carlyle to California- Lena Hall Prepares for Her HEDWIG Return!Yes! I'm really excited about playing Hedwig. I wasn't sure I wanted to go back to Yitzhak because I had said goodbye in such a grand way, but when they said they wanted me to do Hedwig once a week I was like, "That's a challenge and that's interesting and something new" so I couldn't say no. I HAD to say yes, and now I'm really excited and I'm a little bit nervous about it, but I feel doing these cabarets is a great way to kind of shove myself into that, because basically Hedwig is like a rock and roll cabaret. It's all story telling and songs that link the story together.

You are going to open Hedwig in your hometown of San Francisco. How excited are you about playing both these roles there?

I'm really excited. It's the first time I have ever done a big production in my hometown. I've never had a tour go through there or any job go through there, so this will be the first time I go home to celebrate and to be able to do both roles for people that couldn't come out to New York to see me as Yitzhak and than Hedwig. I'm truly excited.

What are you looking forward to the most about re-visiting Yitzhak and then playing Hedwig?

I'm looking forward to being in front. I'm usually just watching in the back, so I'm really looking forward to feeling what the show feels like from a different perspective.

BWW Interview: From the Carlyle to California- Lena Hall Prepares for Her HEDWIG Return!Have you done any pre- rehearsals? You have watched so many incredible men play Hedwig!

I have watched so many shows that I just kind of know the show from osmosis basically, so I haven't starting focusing on it just yet. But I will very soon!

So as you continue your run here at the Café Carlyle, what would you like audiences to take away from the evening?

I want them to know that everyone has the very same experiences pretty much and it should be very relateable and palpable. I also want people to get a sense of where my voice came from and that heartbreak is hard and it happens to everyone and it happens to me a lot.

Performances will take place Tuesday - Saturday at 8:45pm. Reservations made by phone at 212.744.1600 are $75 ($125 for premium seating, $55 for bar seating) Tuesday - Thursday; and $90 ($140 for premium seating, $65 for bar seating) on Friday and Saturday. Reservations can also made online via Ticketweb. Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).

Lena Hall just completed touring the US and Canada with Josh Groban on the Stages tour following her critically acclaimed run starring as Yitzhak in the hit Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch for which she won the 2014 Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Musical. Prior to Hedwig, she starred as Nicola in the Tony Award winning musical Kinky Boots. Lena sold out her debut residency at the legendary Café Carlyle, Feinsteins / 54 Below and Feinsteins San Francisco and her live album "Sin & Salvation: Live At the Carlyle" can be found on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, et al.

Photo Credit: David Andrako

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