|Photo by Joan Marcus|
The Belasco Theatre on 44th Street was packed with "strange rock and rollers" who came to celebrate Harris' last performance as the transsexual "internationally ignored songstress"; the excitement was palpable as fans shared stories of how they first discovered the musical or the number of times they had seen the current production. Screams and cheers erupted when John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote the book of the show and played the title role in its Off-Broadway debut at the Jane Street Theatre, entered the house, and a lengthy standing ovation immediately followed.
The applause continued as the band members of the Angry Inch entered the stage, followed by Lena Hall, who won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a musical for performance as Yitzhak, Hedwig's husband.
"It's like Christmas morning," I whispered to my seatmate, who promptly responded with, "It might be better," as she raised her double champagne in a toast to the stage.
From the moment the opening song, "Tear Me Down," began, the audience lip-synched and danced along, clapping to the on (or off) beat, and seemingly delighting in the attention Harris gave them, which included dancing in their laps, kissing them, licking their glasses or spitting water onto them from the stage. The song "Sugar Daddy" received a mid-show standing ovation, while Harris remained standing centerstage, holding the microphone above his head. The audience's enthusiasm played an integral part in the show, with one person even saying, "F*ck that guy!" when Hedwig first mentioned his former lover Tommy Gnosis. Many were heard crying as the opening notes of "Wig in a Box" played, and each of the many wigs Harris donned throughout the song received individual rounds of applause. After wiping his face with a handkerchief and declaring it "the shroud of Hedwig," Harris tossed it into the audience, saying dismissively, "Fight for it," which many did.
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