Less than a month after Hedwig and the Angry Inch ended its two year New York run, the "internationally ignored" transsexual rock star made a triumphant return to Berlin, the city that both gave her birth and stole her manhood. Last night (May 10) was the opening (and closing) night of Hedwig Schmidt's Berlin engagement at the lovely theatre festival tent in front of the Schiller Theatre on Bismarck Strasse.
With a humble "Hello, Berlin, I love you", Hedwig launched into "Reiss Mich Ab (Tear Me Down)," backed as always by the Angry Inch. She recounted her dramatic tale of love won and organs lost that won over theatregoers for two years at the Hotel Riverview (the Jane Street Theatre) in New York's MePa (Meat Packing) district.
As fate would have it, Hedwig's one-time lover and muse-turned-nemesis, rock star Tommy Gnossis, was also playing in Berlin that night. But Hedwig didn't let the past interfere with her performance. Indeed, she mined it, milked it, and channeled her traumatic East Berlin childhood into the performance.
The new catchline for the show is "In this life, you need every centimetre," but Hedwig modified her performance very little for the Berlin audience. Her Sugar Daddy GI now tempted her with Gummi Bears instead of Licorice Drops and Jelly Rolls, but otherwise the show was as in-your-face and uncompromising as ever.
After the show Hedwig (Gerd Köster) confessed that she wasn't sure what reception she had expected. Lines like "Jesus died for our sins." "So did Hitler" were always going to be controversial. But two encores and ten minutes of thunderous applause later, Hedwig could relax. She was home again. She may have left Berlin in disguise with a gash between her legs, but last night she came back to Berlin a bewigged superstar. Hedwig and the Angry Inch continues touring Germany in a series of limited engagements before taking up permanent residence in Cologne. -- by Derek Scally
Special to Playbill On-Line by permission of the author.