Arts & Entertainment

Glam-rocking the boat

‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ comes back to Philly for one sexually confusing night.

Wigs, glitter, botched sex changes and rock ballads will take to the stage when Azuka Theatre presents Hedwig and the Angry Inch: In Concert. On Dec. 8 at 7 p.m., the Trocadero Theatre will host a one-night only encore performance of the show to benefit Azuka Theatre’s spring season.

Last spring, the musical about a German rock star’s sex change earned Azuka Theatre five Barrymore Award nominations (Courtesy Trocadero Theatre).

Last spring, Hedwig and the Angry Inch won Azuka Theatre five Barrymore Award nominations for the portrayal of a German boy’s journey through a life of sex changes, traveling and heartbreaks as he struggled to catch his big break in the rock music industry.

Those who missed it the first time around finally have a chance to see this glam rock musical, and those who loved Hedwig the last time can relive the experience.

“We’re so excited to do it again,” director Kevin Glaccum said. “You have no idea.”

Azuka’s version of the story is surprisingly different than the original musical and film.

The first plot features a boy from East Germany who wishes to escape and move to America. He falls in love with an American soldier who offers to take him there if he marries him. He undergoes a sex change that turns into a disaster, leaving him with an “angry inch.”

Azuka put a new twist on the story, turning it into a fantasy.

Dito van Reigersberg will don a bleach blond wig to reprise his role as internationally ignored rock sensation, Hedwig.

The action takes place in the mind of a German boy named Hansel.

Glaccum said it is a fantasy, but one that everyone can relate to. It has a lot to do with the human condition, self-love and self-acceptance. Hedwig searches for love in a cruel world as she struggles to find her other half.

“It will touch you in surprising ways,” he said.

Van Reigersberg was nominated for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of the transgendered rock star. The award-winning actor is the co-founder of Philadelphia’s internationally acclaimed Pig Iron Theatre Company.

Van Reigersberg has also earned recognition as a local drag star. He performs sold-out shows at L’Etage Cabaret with his stage persona “Martha Graham Cracker.” It’s no wonder he fits the part of Hedwig so perfectly.

For years, Van Reigersberg has dreamed of playing Hedwig in a performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, so he approached Glaccum about Azuka working on its own production of the musical.

Kim Carson, the winner of the 2008 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical, will co-star as Yitzhak. Yitzhak – Hedwig’s backup singer and romantic interest – is simply a strange kid who lives down the hall from him.

The cast also includes Troy Herion, Rich Hill, Andrew Nelson and Ned Sonstein, who will rock out as the Angry Inch.

“All of the planets aligned for this show. We had all the right people, and everyone got along wonderfully,” Glaccum said.

However, putting the show together was not easy.

On the first night of rehearsal, a fire almost destroyed the production. A resident in the apartment above the Latvian Society’s theater space left a candle burning, causing a fire to spread. The cast and crew were forced to leave irreplaceable props and equipment behind as they stood outside hoping the fire would not bring the show to an end.

“It was pretty heart-stopping,” Glaccum said.

Luckily, the Philadelphia Fire Department saved the show, and Hedwig was free to rock.

Last spring, audiences were dazzled by Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Complete with special effects, graphics and powerful songs, attendees can only expect a memorable once-in-a-lifetime experience full of energy and a lot of laughs.

“We hope that people have as much fun watching it as we have performing it,” Glaccum said.
Ticket prices range from $25 to $75. They can be purchased by calling Azuka Theatre’s box office at 215-733-0255 or online at azukatheatre.org.

Nicole Saylor can be reached at nicole.saylor@temple.edu.

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