Join gender-bending rock goddess Hedwig Schmitt and her band the Angry Inch as she explores life, love, freedom and the things she left behind in this off-Broadway hit musical.
Should You See It?
In this cult favorite, an “internationally ignored” rocker finds herself slightly more famous after an accident involving her rock star ex-boyfriend lands her in the tabloids. She uses her extra time in the spotlight to tell us about her East German upbringing, love affair with American rock music, botched sex change operation and search for love, freedom and identity.
I’m a big fan of Hedwig and the Angry Inch; I’ve seen multiple productions, watched the movie a dozen times, know the words to every song and could probably recite some of Hedwig’s monologues word-for-word. It’s a tough musical to pull off – it’s essentially two actors who must also be amazing singers and a live band. If the actor who plays Hedwig isn’t rock solid, 90 minutes can feel interminable.
Fortunately, this production surpassed my expectations, as did Tim Oberholzer’s performance as Hedwig. He perfectly embodies a unique mixture of sex appeal, star power, vulnerability and rage as he stomps and sings his way across the stage. I was mesmerized by Oberholzer’s performance – and maybe a little by his cheekbones. He was able to play up the fierceness of Hedwig, but let her vulnerability shine through when it was needed.
It helps that Oberholzer has the pipes for it – and so does The PepTides’ Rebecca Noelle as Yitzhak, Hedwig’s sullen back-up vocalist. Noelle brings an interesting intensity to the character, and she’s a seriously impressive singer. The live band never hits a false note and brings a distinct energy to the stage.
John Cameron Mitchell’s text is alternately heartbreaking and hilarious. Stephen Trask’s catchy tunes are likely to be stuck in your head all weekend. As with most productions of Hedwig, the set is minimalistic; essentially, we are witnessing a rock concert. Besides, Oberholzer’s costume, makeup and hair are already visually interesting enough, thanks to Annie Lefebvre and Patrice Ann Forbes. There’s also well-used projections, including some lovely child-like drawings that accentuate Hedwig’s stories.
It takes a truly well-rounded actor to carry this unique musical, and Oberholzer achieves this with a cheeky wink and a smile – and some towering vocals, of course. Had Oberholzer not cut off the applause to make an announcement at the end of the show, I believe it would have kept going all night – or at least until the band caved in and played us some more fantastic music. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is campy fun with a heart. With only three performances left, this is definitely one to see.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d like to hear what you think. Were you wowed by Tim Oberholzer? What was your favorite song? Which of Hedwig’s Ottawa-specific quips made you giggle? Let me know in the comments below!
Hedwig and the Angry Inch runs until April 5th at The Gladstone Theatre, with a special extra 10pm showing on Friday. For more information, check out our preview article.