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Amber chats with the cast and director of “The Drawer Boy” currently playing at the SoHo Playhouse in Manhattan. Set in 1972, this Michael Healey play follows a stranger who uncovers the hidden past of two friends and how one lost his ability to retain long term memory during World War II. Starring Alex Fast, Brad Fryman, and William Laney, and directed by Alex Dinelaris (writer of the upcoming feature film “Birdman”), this Off-Broadway play is one to see this season.
Hedwig – Give Her An Inch, She’ll Give You A Mile Hedwig and The Angry Inch is bringing an oft-forgotten four-letter-word back to the Great White Way; l-o-v-e. Love for yourself, love for your fellow man, and love for that which you don’t understand are the resounding messages in the rock musical. Dancing, singing and jumping around in sky-high heels, Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother and four-time Tony Awards host) magically brings the title character Hedwig Schmidt to life and unapologetically brings her story front and center. Mr Harris leads the audience on her roller coaster journey of transformation from a confused “slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin” who experiences a botched sex operation (hence, her “angry inch”), to a rough-around-the-edges song stylist. She and the band, “The Angry Inch” are shadowing Hedwig’s former lover Tommy Gnosis performance in New York City, who has stolen her lyrics and spotlight, along with her heart. The story ultimately culminates in a powerful and chaotic conclusion where the characters shed the skins of their facade discovering love and acceptance of their true selves.
Neil Patrick Harris plays the title role with reckless abandon throwing all his power into each dance step and wailing out each note leaving the audience to wonder how on earth he can pull this off show after show. He’s fantastic, enthralling, and exhausting to watch, but most importantly it’s impossible not to fall in love with the wayward rockstar known as Hedwig. Mr. Harris has a way of effortlessly knocking down the fourth wall; from balcony to the front row, you feel as though this show is as intimate in its current home, the Belasco Theatre, as it was when it first went up Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theatre in 1998.
Photo: Joan Marcus
Lena “Rocker” Hall (formerly “Nicola” of Kinky Boots and lead singer of the rock band, The Deafening) plays Hedwig’s gender-bending husband, “Yitzhak.” Her “Rocker” nickname is aptly warranted as her voice soars over the theater and into the streets outside. She nails every note and by the emotional finale you are as in love with her as you are with Hedwig. The duo has complete control over the audience as evidenced in the closing song “Midnight Radio,” which pulled each member of the audience out of their seats and lifting their hands to the sky.
Photo: Joan Marcus
With book by John Cameron Mitchell (the original “Hedwig” both onstage and the cult film of the same title) and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, this 95 minute production gives you everything you want in a show – rock, emotion, innovative animation, and even a brief audience sing-a-long. Tony-Award winning Director Michael Mayer is no stranger to rock (Spring Awakening, American Idiot), his expert direction leads you to feel you are at a rock concert rather than a Broadway musical.
This critic’s only complaint would be the superfluous jokes, added for those unfamiliar with the original material but more to showcase Mr. Harrris’ previous work on television and film credits. The contemporary material draws away from the pain and reality of Hedwig’s plight, some jokes are unnecessary and daresay, distracting.
All in all, the show is unabashedly fantastic- sending you back into the world with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and truly in love with the lost-yet-found Hedwig and her Angry Inch.
For tickets: www.hedwigbroadway.com