City Theater Company's Hedwig and the Angry Inch follows Hedwig and her stage show as she tells the story of her botched sex change operation, leaving the titular Angry Inch behind. We also follow her journey from an angry woman to self acceptance and loving herself for who she is. The show is a cult classic, written by John Cameron Mitchell with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask. photo by Joe del Tufo for Moonloop Photography
Hedwig, portrayed by Diva Baby, was emotional and a little over-the-top, which is expected from the character as a drag queen headliner. Her portrayal of Hedwig's breakdown was raw and captivating and a 180 turn from the levity she brought to the opening. I did not expect to be laughing as hard as I did during this show, but Diva Baby’s delivery of the cheeky jokes in the first half of the show were impeccable. Her performance of Wig in a Box was a standout of the night as it allowed the line between actress and character to blur. The song, which started out vulnerable, ended with a silly audience sing-a-long directed by Hedwig, who had more notes for the audience than they sang.
Hedwig is joined on stage by her rock band, The Angry Inch. The musicians were part of the show, as they are in costume and on stage interacting with Hedwig and her husband/backup singer Yitzhak for the entire show. The performance was truly like a rock concert at times. CTC did provide earplugs for those whose ears are more sensitive to loud music.
Hedwig's husband Yitzhak, played by Mackenzie Brockmeyer, is the final cast member of the production. Her portrayal of the quiet Yitzhak surprised me, as I caught myself watching her on more than one occasion. She beautifully portrayed the emotions of Yitzhak and I could imagine exactly what her character was thinking without her having to say a word. Her voice shined in The Long Grift and her reveal at the end was beautifully executed.
City Theater Company is celebrating its 30th season and is reviving Hedwig for the second time, having previously staged the show in 2004 and 2005. Despite CTC having produced this show before, the interpretation of the show felt fresh.
The wigs were beautiful — if not temperamental — but being a true performer, Diva Baby worked that into the show so beautifully that I barely realized it wasn't scripted. The costumes and makeup mirrored Hedwig's dissolution of her image of her life, starting grand, and fun and dissolving into nothing more than a holey shirt and shorts.
Set in the early 2000s, the intimate cabaret-style seating at The Delaware Contemporary made the perfect venue for this performance, making it feel more like an authentic stage show. When I first saw the set, I was apprehensive, as I usually feel screens as set pieces are not used well and they detract from what is happening on stage. That was not the case for Hedwig. The images and videos shown added so much, the show would have been great without them, but they added just enough to elevate the actors' performances. The drawings by Echo Chappelle made the already great performance of The Origin Of Love superb, and the videos used during Hedwig’s breakdown heightened the emotion and intensified Diva’s portrayal of Hedwig’s emotional state.
The remaining performances of Hedwig and The Angry Inch are December 10 at 2pm and December 13-16 at 8pm. All shows are at The Delaware Contemporary.The show runs around 90 minutes with no intermission.
Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at tickets available now at city-theater.org.