It’s official. I have the theater bug, and I’m not getting better anytime soon. The week I saw “Hamilton”, I saw FOUR SHOWS, three of them in four days. For a variety of reasons the tickets (besides “Hamilton”) were very reasonable, but still. Four shows.
I’ll get around to talking about all of them in due course, but first I have to tell you about a very special outing to see “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. I’ve been hearing about “Hedwig” since it opened, and while it sounded interesting, it had never made it to the top of my list. But it’s a favorite of my “Cabaret”-loving friend, and when she suggested we try for the lottery together on a Saturday night, I was all in.
Our plan was to try for the lottery for the 7 p.m. show and then come back for the lottery for the 10 p.m. show if we didn’t win – and then, if that failed, we’d just buy discounted tickets for the 10 p.m. show. Secretly, because I am incapable of functioning past midnight, I was hoping we’d get tickets to the 7 p.m.
“Hedwig” marked only the second time I’d entered an in person lottery. (Last night marked the third, when my friend and I unsuccessfully tried to see “Hamilton” again – yes, we’re obsessed.) The first was for “Wicked” at the height of its popularity – no luck. So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I showed up at 4:45 for a 5 p.m. drawing. My friend frantically texted me that she was stuck in traffic a little ways away, so I wrote my name down and crossed my fingers that she’d get there before the 5 p.m. cut off.
She made it. She ran up to the table at 4:59 and put her slip in, then came over to wait with me. The girl minding the lotto shook up the entries, put her hand in, and called the first name.
The second name she called was my friend’s.
The fourth name she called was mine.
I was SHOCKED. But I told them to throw mine back in, which got a little cheer from the crowd, and then waited till my friend collected our tickets. They were for the second row, just off from center, for $37 each. Yes, really.
After a quick dinner at Olive Garden (I’m a sucker for those breadsticks), we went to the theater. Like our first trip to “Cabaret”, I’d decided not to look up too much about the show before I arrived. I knew it was about Hedwig, an aging German rocker who has had a botched sex change operation (the “angry inch”). My friend gave me a little more context – it’s played as if it’s a one night only, present day show, at the Belasco Theater where it plays, on the set of a musical that’s just closed. When you arrive, peek around the floor of the theater and look for a spoof playbill from the “musical” – I won’t spoil what it is for you, but it’s pretty great.
One of the best part about seeing “Hedwig” right now (and the reason you should try to see it before April 26) is that John Cameron Mitchell is currently playing the title role. Mitchell, who is 52, is the show’s writer (along with composer Stephen Trask) and was the original Hedwig in the off-Broadway production seventeen years ago, as well as in the film adaptation. It was so neat to see him in this role he created. After the show opened last year with Neil Patrick Harris (who won the Tony), Hedwig was played by Andrew Rannells and Michael C. Hall before Mitchell stepped in. Despite an injury (which Mitchell works into the show in wonderful ways), he is full of energy and is fascinating to watch. Darren Criss is up next in the role, and though I LOVE him in the “A Very Potter Musical” shows on Youtube, it will be a very different show.
The music is stunning, the story is fascinating, and I was privileged to see Tony Award-winner Lena Hall as Yitzhak, Hedwig’s husband, before she left the show, and watched with wonder how she made so much out of tiny reactions and facial expressions. And her songs! Wow. Her replacement, Rebecca Naomi Jones, starts on April 14.
As we sat in the front row and the floor vibrated under our feet, we laughed a lot and cried a little and danced in our seats, along with everyone else in the theater. With Hedwig breaking the fourth wall because under the show’s premise, there ISN’T fourth wall, it was a theater experience unlike any other I’ve had. Did I mention the music is amazing?
If you’re interested, check out the show’s website for more information – I wish you our luck with the lotto!
Have you seen “Hedwig”? What did you think?