The reports of the death of Hedwig and the Angry Inch have been premature. The two-year-old Off-Broadway rock musical announced today that it had reopened its run indefinitely and would not close on Jan. 30, as previously indicated.
The turning point in the fate of Hedwig was a late-inning critique by New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley. The Jan. 21 rave review was particularly unusual in its timing -- just nine days before the scheduled closing date of a long-running show. "Do we really have to say goodnight to Hedwig?" asked Brantley in his opening line. He went on to praise the latest Hedwig, Matt McGrath's performance and commented the show looked "awfully healthy." He also touched upon the recent, ill-starred title turn by Ally Sheedy, a casting gamble which, in the critic's words, seemed, "by all accounts, unfortunate."
The show's producers kept an eye on the box office over the weekend and apparently were encouraged by what they saw.
Matt McGrath took over the lead role on Dec. 20, after Ally Sheedy -- the show's first female Hedwig -- abruptly left the production. McGrath's off Broadway credits include A Fair Country, Minutes from the Blue Route and Northeast Local. Kevin Cahoon subbed in the show for the week between Sheedy and McGrath. Other Hedwigs have included Michael Cerveris, rocker Donavan Leitch and the show's co-author and original star, John Cameron Mitchell.
Hedwig opened Feb. 14, 1998, to rave reviews, going on to win two Obie Awards and an Outer Critics Circle Award. The production inspired a cast recording (recently nominated for a Grammy Award), a short-lived L.A. mounting (starring Cerveris) and an upcoming film, supposed to start shooting in May, with originator John Cameron Mitchell both behind the camera and on screen. Christine Vachon ("Boys Don't Cry") is producing for New Line Cinema.
Hedwig was written by Mitchell (book), and Stephen Trask (music and lyrics). In the musical, the title singer, an obscure and tortured transsexual rock singer, tells her darkly comic story while ostensibly performing a concert. The Angry Inch, her back-up band, is Trask's rock combo Cheater, a staple at such downtown New York clubs as CBGB's and Mercury Lounge.
Tickets range $20-49.50. For information call (212) 239-6200, or consult the website at www.hedwig.com.
--By Robert Simonson