by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The 5&Dime Theatre Company begins its second year by presenting the daring musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at the Underbelly night club at 113 East Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville. The show will run through December 22, 2012. Tickets are a bargain priced $10 in advance or $15 at the door. To reserve, go to www.The5andDime.org.
“Hedwig” was written by John Cameron Mitchell with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask. After opening Off Broadway on Valentine’s Day, 1998 the show ran for two years. A film version followed in 2001.
It is the story of Hedwig, a transvestite who is performing a rock concert and relating his life story to the audience through spoken word and ten wonderfully written songs. Hedwig begins his somewhat tragic story with his lonely German childhood in East Berlin, where he is known as Hansel. He is befriended by a gay American GI, who wants to marry him and take him to the US; he must first undergo a sex change operation so he can become a woman and wife. The operation is botched, leaving him, renamed as Hedwig, with a one-inch reminder that he was once a male. After coming to the States, Hedwig’s husband leaves her and she finds herself divorced and living in a mobile home in Kansas City, trying to make a living as a rock singer and music composer. She falls in love with and mentors Tommy, a young singer, who adds to her pain by leaving her and using her songs to gain fame and fortune.
This is a two-person show, with the principal character, Hedwig performed by the incredibly talented Josh Waller. He has impressed local audiences in many musicals over the last few years in such roles as Batboy in “Batboy the Musical,” Leo Clark in “Parade,” Archibald Craven in “The Secret Garden,” and the Emcee in “Cabaret.” In addition, Waller has been a featured vocalist with the Jacksonville Symphony. His over-the-top performance was truly physically demanding as he is constantly on stage for the entire show and moving and talking and singing.
The songs are really quite remarkable and so well performed. Our favorite was “The Origin of Love.” Other intriguing titles were “Sugar Daddy,” “Wig in the Box,” “Wicked Little Town” and “Exquisite Corpse.”
The other character is Hedwig’s current husband, Yitzhak, portrayed by Maya Adkins, dressed very convincingly as a man, who sings several songs with Hedwig, and does a solo toward the end of the show.
The Angry Inch Band was exceptional. Led by Musical Director Aaron Marshall on Piano and Rhythm Guitar, it featured Brett Norton (Lead Guitar), Damon Martin (Bass Guitar) and Landon Baker (Drums). Ms. Marshall and Ms. Adkins performed a moving duet with the band.
A digital screen above the left of the stage displays changing images that accompany and illuminate Hedwig’s story. Contributing creative artists were Maya Adkins, Christina Boykin, Steven Foster, and Sarah van Goidtsnoven.
Waller’s costume as Hedwig awed the audience, she was dazzling with her blonde wig, red lips and fishnet hose. Credit Lee Hamby’s fabulous costume and wig design.
This musical was marvelously directed by Christopher P. Farrell also known as Edward Mourningwood, the principal of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School performed at various venues in Jacksonville.
As you may have surmised by now from the subject matter, the show contains language and sexual references. If you saw the recent revival of “The Rocky Horror Show” at the Edge, and if you are a fan , then you will certainly want to see this show and add it to your rock musical education and become a Hehead (as fans of Hedwig and the Angry Inch are known).
If you are a fan of The 5 & Dime and have seen their shows this past year, you already know that they select diverse venues for their stage productions.
Underbelly is a picture perfect location for this show, since Hedwig’s story is set on a club stage. Pigs are big at Underbelly and you are greeted by a large cutout pig on the wall when you enter. The rest rooms are labeled for “Pigs” and “Piglets.” The full service bar includes many, many interesting draft beers. We tried their food and besides being very reasonably priced, it is also very good. Their signature menu item is pulled pork cooked daily, and they serve great individual pizzas. Drinks and food are available for you to enjoy before, during, and after the show if you so desire.
This excellent production was possible because the 5&Dime team was once again in action with Kim Schnepft as Production and Stage Manager; Steven Foster as Assistant Director and Stage Manger; Monica Hayes as Makeup Designer; Joshua Blanton as Sound Designer; Zeina Salame Marketing Coordinator; Caryl Butterley as Website/Poster/Playbill Designer.
We are looking forward to another year of the 5&Dime’s unique productions in 2013.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM