For a show to receive not one but two extensions, it must garner a noteworthy reaction. By popular demand, the award-winning 2014 production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch returned to TheatreLAB’s Basement from December 8 through 16 for a limited run. Due to an overwhelming success for this limited run, TheatreLAB added two more performances, December 22 and 23.
Directed by the acclaimed Maggie Roop, the story revolves around a German transgender woman, Hedwig, and her dream of journeying to America, the heart of rock ‘n roll, during the Berlin Wall era. After meeting and falling in love with an American soldier, Hedwig undergoes a gender reassignment surgery to receive passage onto the Western side of the wall.
“The operation gets botched, leaving Hedwig neither male nor female,” said Matt Shofner, who plays the titular character, in a 2014 interview with GayRVA. While living with the cards that are dealt to her, Hedwig faces competition from a supposed-friend and co-song-writer, Tommy Speck, who claims credit for songs that were actually written with Hedwig. Facing yet another personal blow, Hedwig takes matters into her own hands and takes her band, The Angry Inch, on a 70s and 80s-inspired rock tour, competing with her old friend Tommy.
The appeal of Hedwig is apparent. Narrated primarily through “fourth-wall smashing” monologue, Hedwig is also undeniably rock ‘n roll. “I would almost go as far as to say that I almost don’t consider it a musical,” Roop told GayRVA in 2014. “It’s kind of rock ‘n roll and a one-woman or one-person performance, and these all kind of intersect. The music isn’t typical of theater, and I think it’s even different from most other rock musicals.”
In addition to paying tribute to the classic era of rock ‘n roll, the music adds to the story-line and personal development of Hedwig. “You’re . . . hearing the songs that Hedwig herself has written . . . chronologically throughout the story she’s telling,” said Roop. The powerhouse cast and music are supplemented with the intimate space provided by the Basement. Think of your own personal rock show with a dramatic monologue, drag makeup, teased wigs, denim, and leather woven in between.
For Bianca Bryan, who plays Yitzhak, reprising this role was exciting and meaningful. “I was thrilled because it’s one of those shows that fills your soul that happen to everybody and this was definitely one of them,” she said in a recent interview. ”It was my fourth show in Richmond, so it was one of my early shows that I did here. They had always talked about “Would they bring it back?” Bryan described how wonderful it was to see familiar faces in the sold-out crowds, equating Hedwig to a cult-classic. She even had a couple travel all the way from Baltimore just to see the show, because they were still subscribed to the mailing list. Relearning harmonies and new blocking for a slightly adjusted stage layout was all Bryan needed to bring back Yitzhak.
In terms of its meaning, Bryan said that the universal themes are what draws crowds back again and again. “This is everybody’s story, if you think about it. It’s love and acceptance, sacrifice. It’s an important story. I feel like being a voice for the LGBTQ community is more important than ever,” she said. “For somebody that may not be comfortable with that, by the end of the production, she has everybody on her side.” For a show that will make you laugh, cry, think, and sing along, Hedwig has come at a time when refreshing Twitter or Facebook just brings more grim news.
Don’t miss Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Not only has it been brought back for a revival, but now it’s been extended by popular demand. Every performance of the extended run has been sold out, but limited tickets are still available for the remaining two performances. This is a way of saying don’t walk, run–get your tickets now. Tickets for the remaining performances can be found here. However, at all sold out performances, Standing Room Only Tickets will be sold at the door starting 30 minutes before the show.