Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at Olney Theatre Center

pixeltracker

The production runs through January 2nd, 2022

BWW Review: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH  at Olney Theatre Center

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Broadway's punk rock/musical theatre lovechild is on-stage at Olney Theatre Center. Following the story of an Cold War German performer with a botched sex change, Hedwig takes us through her tumultous and colorful life accompanied by energetic performances and the occasional standup routine.

The show is helmed by Mason Alexander Park as Hedwig, who is gracing the Olney stage once again after a Helen Hayes Award-winning run as their Emcee in the theatre's 2019 production of Cabaret. Park comes to the role as a vet as they were previously a standby for the first Broadway National Tour. Perhaps Park's best quality, besides a killer voice and the ability to pull off jorts, is their capacity to captivate an entire audience regardless of what's happening. It didn't matter if Park was making a lewd joke or reminiscing on childhood in East Germany or harassing the band members or re-enacting gender dysphoria related trauma, the entire house was completely tuned in. Park's rendition of "Wicked Little Town" is particularly poignant and possibly worth the price of admission.

Chani Wereley as Yitzhak is a great example of incredibly powerful underscoring. While she did literally provide strong vocals to accompany Hedwig, her performance was cleverly understated and accented by her quick humor, creating an interesting power dynamic within the duo. Wereley's seemingly understated performance gives way to her show-stopping execution of "Midnight Radio" complete with a tinsel wig and raw emotion.

The careful direction of Johanna McKeon is this production's secret to success. McKeon, like Park, is no stranger to Hedwig as she served as the Associate Director of the Broadway production, as well as a slew of other highly successful large-scale Broadway shows. McKeon's expert direction made it so that a larger-than-life show like Hedwig fit neatly into such an intimate setting as Olney's 1938 Original Theatre. With her incredible understanding of the piece, McKeon was able to find balance between humor, punk rock and heart in a show that simply put is emotional chaos.

The on-stage band consisting of Manny Arciniega on the drums, Jamie Ibacache on the guitar, and Jason Wilson on the bass guitar doubled as Hedwig's personal band, the Angry Inch. Under the musical direction of Olney's Associate Artistic Director of Musical Theatre, Christopher Youstra, they were every bit committed to the bit and were ready to provide an accompanying rimshot as well as some good old fashioned punk instrumentals.

I would like to particularly congratulate the design team on expertly capturing the tone and feel of the piece. The scenic and costume design orchestrated by Jacob Climer was a real feat, stocking the stage with band equipment adorned with tchotchkes and outfitting the cast in perfectly grunge-y attire. I particularly enjoyed the small grouping of light-up, plastic Virgin Mary statues and Hediwg's Tina Turner-esque ensemble in the middle of the show.

The performers and creative team did an excellent job at bringing new relevance to a 20 something year old show. It's a production that can be enjoyed by purveyors of the theatre, punk rockers, outcasts, and anyone who lived through the 80's. After a long hiatus, this is the perfect show to ring in the theatre's return with.

Running Time: 100 minutes with no intermission.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Olney Theatre Center runs through January 2nd, 2020. Tickets are $59-$85 and are available at olneytheatre.org and 301-924-3400.

Masks and proof of COVID vaccination are required at all Olney Theatre performances. Those under 12 who are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine must be masked and accompanied by a vaccinated adult. We do not accept proof of a recent negative COVID test in lieu of vaccination. Visit OlneyTheatre.org/vax for more information.

Socially distanced seating is available in the rear six rows (K-P) only


Related Articles View More Washington, DC Stories

Buy at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

From This Author Sophie Williams