BWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at Academy Players
HEDWIG is one of those musicals that is a perfect balance of humor and tragedy with absolutely fantastic songs. The production currently at Academy Players, directed by Ted Clement is so satisfying to watch, and is an overwhelming spectacle of music with an incredibly talented cast. Kevin Broccoli commands the stage as Hedwig and Vic Leo is the perfect compliment (antagonist?) as Yitzhak. This is truly not a show to miss.
Hedwig is the story of Hedwig Robinson, a 'little slip of a girlyboy' from communist East Berlin, who falls in love with an American serviceman, has a botched sex change, and then finds herself divorced in a trailer park as the Berlin Wall finally comes down. She remarries Yitzhak, and plays poorly-attended shows with her band The Angry Inch, and backup singers The Wiggs.
This is a musical in so much as it tells a story through songs, but Hedwig feels much more intimate and more like a good cabaret act. Hedwig retells the story of her life with a phenomenal live band and backup singers. While Kevin Broccoli is not known as a singer, he is known as a creative force who goes all in on every project he sets his mind to, and this is no exception. As Hedwig, he commands the stage, and as a skilled actor, he focuses in on the subtler aspects of storytelling that really bring Hedwig's tale to life. In particular, as Hedwig recounts her first performance on stage, Broccoli fumbles slightly with the microphone, seeming unsure of how it works. It's a small thing, but speaks volumes. Hedwig can be hard to love sometimes, and little moments like that make it much easier to be on her side when her frustrations come to the fore.
Vic Leo also shines as Yitzhak. Yitzhak is a rather challenging role in that the character doesn't get to say much, and communicates primarily through dirty looks directed at Hedwig, and other sighs of frustration. Leo and Broccoli have the chemistry of an old married couple, which works perfectly, but Yitzhak is also a consummate professional, so when the music starts, he turns it on just like Hedwig does. Leo's voice is outstanding throughout, and the only downside of their performance is that the backup microphones were turned down a bit, and the higher pitched voices of Leo and The Wiggs frequently didn't carry as well against the sound of the live band.
The scenic design by Kyle Renee and costume design by Victoria Ezikovich were also absolutely outstanding. It was impossible to imagine the theatre space of Academy Players as anything other than the Riverside ballroom. This entire production was so well-executed that it's clear everyone involved viewed this as a passion project. If you've never seen this show, I guarantee it's unlike anything else you'll find.
Performances are from January 18th - 27th (Friday-Sunday) at the James and Gloria Maron Cultural Arts Center located at 180 Buttonhole Drive (Building #2) in Providence, Rhode Island
Tickets: $25 General Admission
Tickets may be purchased at http://www.academyplayersri.org/tickets.html
Photo: Vic Leo as Yitzhak and Kevin Broccoli as Hedwig. Photo by Dual Edge Photography.