This is a reprint of my remarks about “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater presented in their Stiemke Studio during the 2019 – 2020 season. This originally appeared on my Facebook timeline February 1, 2020.
“You Kant Always Get What You Want” is the punchline to a joke in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. You will understand when you see this musical. And this is a musical unlike most others…it relies on punk rock and glam rock in a rock club or cabaret setting to present the story. For Milwaukeeans of a certain age, think the old Teddy’s or Humpin’ Hannah’s or Zaks. The genre isn’t as shocking as it probably was when it was first introduced but it still makes an impact. And if you are lucky enough to get cabaret table seating down front, you will be part of the show. And the roadies will keep offering you ear plugs…because this is after all a rock concert…but unless you have sensitive ears…you probably don’t need them and you don’t want to miss Hedwig’s direct monologues to the audience.
And of course in the past twenty years, society’s relationship and understanding of the varieties and expressions of sex and gender have matured, but this musical remains as culturally and socially relevant as ever because we still have a long way to grow. You just may view it a bit differently that the younger you would have. And Hedwig’s story is compelling and moving and is ably told through song and her interactions with the audience…and a few asides and distractions that pull us along. “Tommy can you hear me?
Matt Rodin as Hedwig is phenomenal. The character is totally believable and you accept her immediately. And Matt carries the songs both vocally and theatrically. I love him in this role. You will be jealous of his voice and his legs and his boots (yes you will).
And then there’s Yitzhak, played by Bethany Thomas. My goodness can she just push a song to its ultimate limit and beyond. Both her support vocals and solos are astounding. You may remember her from the Stackner Cabaret presentation of Songs for Nobodies. I don’t think there’s anything she can’t sing and make you feel it.
So besides the acting and music…there’s a real story here. Some history around the division of Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall and how that affected real people. Culture shock of moving from that culture to America. And the questions that we all share at some level or another, around sex and gender and love and support and who am I and why do I love/hate you and why do I need to be here?
So yes, see this. You will feel. And you will leave satisfied.
Text by John Cameron Mitchell, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask
Directed by Mark Clements
January 28 – March 8, 2020