House Bill 2 be damned: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, composer and lyricist Stephen Trask and librettist and star John Cameron Mitchell’s gender-bending, 90-minute 1998 Off-Broadway, 2000 West End, and 2014 Broadway concert musical about the travails of a brassy transsexual East German-American punk-rock singer recovering from a gruesomely botched sex-change operation, will definitely raise consciousness — and eyebrows — on Jan. 31-Feb. 5 when it roars into the Durham Performing Arts Center, where it will play as part of DPAC‘s SunTrust Broadway Series. In a Dec. 10, 1998 article in Rolling Stone, entitled “Sex & Drag & Rock & Roll,” David Fricke wrote:
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the first rock musical that truly rocks…. [Hedwig, played at DPAC by Tony Award® and Olivier Award nominee Euan Morton] makes her entrance like a star dying to be born — goose-stepping through the audience with the arrogant aplomb of Marlene Dietrich and Jim Morrison; decked out like a trailer-park tart’s idea of a glam-rock fox, in stone-washed denim, an Aryan-yellow, blow-dried mane and red-glitter lipstick; accompanied by the refried-Queen strains of ‘America the Beautiful’ and a marvelously surly introduction by her crusty Serbian valet boy toy, Yitzhak [played at DPAC by Hannah Corneau]: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not — Hedwig!’
Oh, Lawdy! There will be hissy fits on Jones Street when the former Hansel Schmidt, born in East Berlin, struts her stuff as she sings “Tear Me Down”: “I was born on the other side/Of a town ripped in two/I made it over the great divide/Now I’m coming for you.” Oh, Lawdy! Hedwig is gonna give the Tarheel bigots, bullies, and boobs who put their personal prejudices ahead of the public welfare palpitations when she heads for the ladies’ room at DPAC. So, it’s best that North Carolina’s self-appointed “bathroom police” give Hedwig a wide berth.
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an amazing musical about this rock goddess telling her story of love and loss,” says Hannah Corneau, who’s a woman playing a man, opposite a man playing a transsexual woman. “Yitzak is Hedwig’s husband,” she explains. “He’s her other half…. He’s a wonderfully empowering character for anyone who’s been in a toxic or co-dependent relationship. He’s desperately in love with Hedwig, so he supports her. But he has to find a way to step out of her shadow and ultimately find his own voice.”
“Yitzak is man who used to do drag in Croatia, where he’s from,” Corneau says, “but he doesn’t do drag anymore…. Now, he’s on tour with Hedwig[, who forbids him to don a wig and perform in drag;] and he’s a support for her throughout the show…. He’s a very kind, interesting soul.”
She adds, “The physicality of the role is challenging, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for an actress to step into another person’s shoes … literally. I wear male boots and male clothing,” which add extra weight for her to carry during her performance. “That weight affects my stance and posture,” says Corneau.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch made its Off-Broadway debut, directed by Peter Askin, with musical staging by Jerry Mitchell, on Feb. 14, 1998 at the Jane Street Theatre, where it played for 857 performances before closing on April 9, 2000. Mitchell and Trask won Special Citations at the 1997-98 OBIE Awards, and the show won the 1998 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. John Cameron Mitchell, who played Hedwig opposite Miriam Shor as Yitzak, was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch opened on Sept. 19, 2000 at the Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End, where it ran through Nov. 4, 2000. The motion-picture version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, directed by and starring John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig and Miriam Shor as Yitzhak, hit the big screen on July 20, 2001. It won the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival Award for Best Feature Film.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch finally made its Broadway debut, directed by Michael Mayer, with musical staging by Spencer Liff, on April 22, 2014 at the Belasco Theatre, where it ran for 507 performances before closing on Sept. 13, 2015. It earned eight 2014 Tony Award nominations, and won the Tonys for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Lena Hall as Yitzhak ), and Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams).
The current national tour of the Tony-winning Broadway Revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, also directed by Michael Mayer, with musical staging by Spencer Liff, commenced on Oct. 4, 2016 at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco, CA. Then on Nov. 29 2016, Euan Morton — who created the role of Boy George in the musical Taboo in the West End and on Broadway — and rising star Hannah Corneau replaced Darren Criss and Lena Hall in the roles of Hedwig and Yitzhak. The members of Hedwig’s backup band — The Angry Inch, a.k.a. “Tits of Clay” — who will perform at the Durham Performing Arts Center also include music director Justin Craig (guitar and keyboards) as Skszp, Matt Duncan (bass) as Jacek, Tim Mislock (guitar) as Krzyzhtoff, and Peter Yanowitz (drums) as Schlatko.
On Nov. 29, 2016, when announcing the cast changes to Andrew Gans of Playbill.com, director Michael Mayer declared: “Hannah is a force of nature, and I’m really excited to unleash her on the country.” Hedwig composer and lyricist Stephen Trask added, “Euan’s Hedwig is going to be so exquisitely beautiful and achingly heartbreaking. What an emotional powerhouse. He is otherworldly.”
Born in 1989 in New Hartford, NY, a small town (pop. 22,166 in 2010) in upstate New York, Hannah Corneau says that she was bitten by the theater bug in the second grade. “When I was about seven years old,” she says, “I was encouraged to do community theater.” She and her sister subsequently cut their acting teeth in a lot of local community-theater productions.
After the 27-year-old actress earned her BFA degree in musical theater from Syracuse University, she moved to Chicago for a couple of years, and earned a Jeff Award for her performance as Fantine in the Paramount Theatre’s production of Les Misérables. She moved to the Big Apple in 2014, and was the understudy for Tracy Michailidis in the role of accused atomic spy Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg in the 2014 Off-Broadway production of Ethel Sings: The Unsung Song of Ethel Rosenberg and the understudy for Megan McGinnis in the role of Jerusha Abbott (“The Oldest Orphan in the John Grier Home”) in the 2015 Off-Broadway production of Daddy Long Legs.
Hannah Corneau is making her national tour debut in the role of Yitzak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. She says that auditioned for the role three times last July and August, got the role in August, started rehearsing in late October, and started performing with the tour in late November.
Her talent has not gone unnoticed. “Corneau, as Yitzhak, has a beautiful voice,” writes Gabe Hartwig in his St. Louis Post-Dispatch review. He adds, “She largely serves as backup but gets a few opportunities to shine.” In his BroadwayWorld.com review, Dylan Shaffer was even more enthusiastic: “… Ms. Corneau’s voice rang through the theatre. Everything from a Whitney Houston belt to a raspy rock riff came out of this queen’s mouth.”
Hannah Corneau says that the current touring version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch is “a bigger production than it’s ever been live.” She adds, “Hedwig started out very, very small. [Our] production was made for Broadway…. It has a phenomenal story and message, delivered with a Broadway budget…. It delivers the same messages of love and acceptance and individuality” on tour as it did on the Great White Way.
“This show, and the audience’s reaction to this show, is unlike anything that I’ve ever witnessed as an actor or an audience member,” says Corneau. “… It resonates. This story and these characters and this show speak to everyone. We’re delighted to come to North Carolina to tell this story to all open hearts and open ears.”
SECOND OPINION: Jan. 27th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by David Menconi: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/music-news-reviews/on-the-beat-blog/article128893279.html; Jan. 27th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh BWW TV interview with actor Euan Morton, conducted by Jeffrey Kare: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-TV-Euan-Morton-of-HEDWIG-THE-ANGRY-INCH-National-Tour-20170127; Jan. 27th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/hedwig-and-the-angry-inch-creators-talk-tour-version-of/article_738d7fd8-e349-11e6-8d37-3f7f35c99b8f.html (Note: You must subscribe to read this article); Jan. 25th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/hedwig-and-the-angry-inch/Event?oid=4995525; Jan. 24th Raleigh, NC Triangle Explorer interview with Hannah Corneau, conducted by John Huisman: https://triangleexplorer.com/2017/01/24/hedwig-and-the-angry-inch-ready-to-rock-dpac-january-31st-february-5th/; and Nov. 29th New York, NY Playbill.com preview by Andrew Gans: http://www.playbill.com/article/hedwig-and-the-angry-inch-national-tour-welcomes-new-stars-tonight.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 8 p.m. Feb. 3, 2 and 8 p.m. Feb. 4, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $30-$125. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/2212135.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
SHOW: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/hedwig-the-angry-inch and https://www.facebook.com/events/1686818771640339/.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3xK6_Gag9k and https://www.youtube.com/user/HedwigOnBway.
DPAC NEWS RELEASE: https://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/tony-and-olivier-award-nominated-euan-morton-to-star-as-hedwig-in-national-tour.
DPAC‘S SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series-2016-17.
THE TOUR: http://www.hedwigbroadway.com/, https://www.facebook.com/HedwigOnBway, https://twitter.com/hedwigonbway, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedwig_and_the_Angry_Inch_%28musical%29#Broadway_and_U.S._National_Tour_Cast, and https://www.youtube.com/user/HedwigOnBway.
TOUR CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM: http://www.hedwigbroadway.com/#page-team.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
WARNING: On its website, DPAC writes, “[Hedwig and the Angry Inch] Contains strong language and adult themes. [It is] Not recommended for children or preteens. Parental discretion [is] advised.”
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4th, performance.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (1998 Off-Broadway, 2000 West End, and 2014 Broadway musical): http://www.hedwigbroadway.com/ (official website), http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=3132 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/306 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/hedwig-and-the-angry-inch-495293 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedwig_and_the_Angry_Inch_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://www.newlinetheatre.com/hedwigchapter.html (New Line Theatre of St. Louis, MO).
Stephen Trask (music and lyrics): http://stephentrask.com/ (official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/3677 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/stephen-trask-407142 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Trask (Wikipedia).
John Cameron Mitchell (book): http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/3676 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/john-cameron-mitchell-74708 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cameron_Mitchell (Wikipedia).
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001 film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/453999/Hedwig-and-the-Angry-Inch/ (Turner Classic Movies page), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0248845/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedwig_and_the_Angry_Inch_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Hannah Corneau (actress who plays Yitzak): http://www.hedwigbroadway.com/#page-team (tour bio), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/44813 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/hannah.corneau (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/hannahcorneau (Twitter page).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing email@example.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)