In Wake of Late-Inning Review, Off-Bway's Hedwig May Live On

News   In Wake of Late-Inning Review, Off-Bway's Hedwig May Live On The reports of the death of Hedwig and the Angry Inch may have been premature. The two-year-old Off-Broadway rock musical recently announced it would shutter at the Jane Street Theatre on Jan. 30. But a Jan. 21 rave review by Ben Brantley of the New York Times may give the show a new lease on life.
Matt McGrath as Hedwig.
Matt McGrath as Hedwig. (Photo by Photo by Carol Rosegg)

The reports of the death of Hedwig and the Angry Inch may have been premature. The two-year-old Off-Broadway rock musical recently announced it would shutter at the Jane Street Theatre on Jan. 30. But a Jan. 21 rave review by Ben Brantley of the New York Times may give the show a new lease on life.

"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."

A press rep for the show said the producers will be keeping an eye on the till over the next few days to see if the review has an impact on sales. If it does, Hedwig may take down its closing notice.

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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