Playbill Pride: From Angels in America to Hedwig, Our Top Ten Gay Plays

By Ben Rimalower
27 Jun 2013

Michael Pitt and John Cameron Mitchell

7. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Trask
Book by John Cameron Mitchell

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a difficult-to-describe phenomenon. Some might not consider it a gay play, or even a play at all. It's presented environmentally, like performance art, as a performance in a low-rent engagement by the "internationally ignored song stylist" Hedwig. But it is a play because the character of Hedwig is a richly drawn creation (also hard to describe — an East German ex-pat post-botched-operative transgender glam rock/cabaret singer) and her concert patter is scripted to tell a story, which, together with the songs she sings, packs a wallop. As out-there and unique as Hedwig's situation may be, the themes of liberation and self-actualization are universal, and great humanity is uncovered in Hedwig's tale. The songs combine character, humour and heart with legitimate rock edge; anyone who listens to "The Origin of Love" can easily see why Hedwig and the Angry Inch ran two years Off-Broadway and was so successfully made into a movie. I'm very excited for the recently announced Broadway premiere, starring Neil Patrick Harris.