Mitchell's Hedwig Dances In Drag At The Westbeth

News   Mitchell's Hedwig Dances In Drag At The Westbeth
 
Now here's something you don't read every day: Coming to the Westbeth Theatre on Bank Street in NYC will be a "rock `n' roll drag biography," written by Obie-Award winner John Cameron Mitchell and featuring songs by Stephen Trask of the alternative rock band, Cheater. The show, titled "Hedwig And The Angry Inch," begins previews Feb. 27 and opens March 9.
John Cameron Mitchell
John Cameron Mitchell Photo by Photo by John Bruce

Now here's something you don't read every day: Coming to the Westbeth Theatre on Bank Street in NYC will be a "rock `n' roll drag biography," written by Obie-Award winner John Cameron Mitchell and featuring songs by Stephen Trask of the alternative rock band, Cheater. The show, titled "Hedwig And The Angry Inch," begins previews Feb. 27 and opens March 9.

Here's the blurb exactly as it appears in the show's press release: "John Cameron Mitchell is Hedwig, a Berlin cold war bride who is transplanted to a Kansas trailer park and then catapulted to infamy. In sequined neck brace and a dress of bubblewrap, Hedwig tells us -- in story and song -- how `some slip of a girlyboy from Communist East Berlin became the internationally ignored song stylist barely standing before you.'"

Cheater, a group influenced by Captain Beefheart and Mott The Hoople, will play Hedwig's back-up band, "The Angry Inch." Songs in Hedwig include "Tear Me Down," "The Origin Of Love," "The Angry Inch," "Wig In A Box," "Wicked Little Town," and "The Long Grift." According to production spokesperson Bob Fennell (of the Publicity Office), the show ends with "Du Erleuchtest Meine Leben." That's a German translation (by Michael Feingold) from the English: "You Light Up My Life."

Peter Askin, who staged John Leguizamo's Mambo Mouth and Spic-O-Rama, directs Hedwig, which has been called "part Ziggy Stardust concert and part Marlene Dietrich cabaret." Sets for the musical are by James Youmans (Broadway's Swingin' On A Star), costumes are by Fabio Toblini, lighting is by Kevin Adams.

First developed at the downtown venues Squeezebox, Fez and the Public Theatre, Hedwig is referred to by Mitchell as "a play in the form of a rock gig." Mitchell's work in Broadway's The Secret Garden earned him a Drama Desk nomination, and he won an Obie for playing the young lead in Larry Kramer's The Destiny Of Me. Other shows include Hello Again, Missing Persons and Six Degrees Of Separation. Mitchell, a founding member of the fledgling company Drama Dept., adapted and directed their production of Tennessee Williams' Kingdom Of Earth.

For tickets ($20) and information on Hedwig And The Angry Inch at the Westbeth Theatre Center through March 24, call (212) 741-0391.

--By David Lefkowitz

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