Last night, I went to see the unbelievable production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The show is vibrant, vulnerable and energetic, dark yet funny and - I confess - this wasn't my first time seeing it. I saw it brilliantly played by Neil Patrick Harris, then Andrew Rannells was incredibly charming in his role, and finally Michael C. Hall brought his own entertaining spin on the role.
But it was my first time seeing John Cameron Mitchell. And wow, just wow. If you've been living under a rock, let me fill you in on the cult classic taking over Broadway called Hedwig and The Angry Inch. Written and originally performed off-Broadway by JCM (yes John and I are on a nickname basis) with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, it's the story of a German transsexual who goes on a journey of self-discovery in the mostly one man act (with supporting roles by the incredibly talented Lena Hall dressed as a male to play Hedwig's boyfriend Yitzak, and the hair-rockin band The Angry Inch).
I've been trying to figure out my fascination with the show - it's one part just incredible admiration for the talent on-stage (the show is incredibly demanding emotionally and physically and JCM's torn meniscus is a painful reminder of that), another part enjoyment of the energy of the audience that the show brings as an incredibly powerful and emotional rock musical, and the last part is really that indescribable feeling that you get leaving the show - that "je ne sais quoi" which leaves you wanting to skip or float out of the show!
It's a unique show and its a testament to the show that Hedwig, an East German transsexual, is relatable to the world at large. I think it's because the underlying theme of the show: learning to choose self-acceptance of yourself - not power or control over others and your surroundings- is relatable regardless of your age or gender or background.
As Hedwig bares his soul and comes to terms with loving who he is, the audience learns to love themselves a little more. And as the cast belts out the line "lift up your hands" towards the end of the show, there is a wave of arms in the air, gathered as one to support Hedwig and, in turn, feel supported. Hedwig allows us to feel free to truly love ourselves and become the best version of ourselves and, ultimately, spread the love to others. It is a message that never ever gets old.
We love you Hedwig. Keep on rocking.