Neil Patrick Harris's Jaw-Dropping New Role! 5 Things to Know About 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch'
Neil Patrick Harris (l), John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig (r) [Photos: Andrew H. Walker/Fine Line Features; Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions/Getty Images]" alt="[Photos: Andrew H. Walker/Fine Line Features; Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions/Getty Images]
For those uninitiated in the world of Hedwig before now (or, as the tagline says, "this business we call show"), here's our handy guide to everything you need to know!
1. He's a "she" … kind of
The character of Hedwig was born "Hansel," an effeminate boy in East Germany, who falls in love with an American soldier named Luther towards the end of the Cold War. In order to escape, he must marry Luther, so he takes his mother's name and passport and heads in for a sex change operation. But the operation doesn't go according to plan, which leads to the question …
2. What's the Angry Inch?
Following his botched sex change operation, Hedwig is left with a one-inch mound of flesh between his legs, or, his "angry inch," which also later becomes the name of his unsuccessful band of fellow Eastern European ex-pats, which tours Bligewater restaurants throughout America. Hedwig's journey also involves his love story in Kansas with a boy named Tommy Speck, who goes on to become rock star Tommy Gnosis, singing the songs that Hedwig wrote for him. The rest of the show involves Hedwig's journey to finally find true love in his life.
3. This isn't Hedwig's 'First Time at The Rodeo'
"Hedwig" is a revival of a musical, which was first produced off-Broadway in 1997 by David Binder. John Cameron Mitchell created the character, wrote the book of the show, and also starred as the original Hedwig. The characters originated from performances by Mitchell and his friends at the early-'90s New York City drag club Squeezebox. Mitchell reprised his role in the indie film version of "Hedwig" in 2001. Hedwig has also been played on stage over the years by a number of actors, including Michael Cerveris, brat packer Ally Sheedy (the only woman to inhabit the role), Anthony Rapp, and Donovan Leitch Jr. Both the stage and film won multiple critical accolades when they first originated.
4. If Hedwig has a band, that means this is likely a musical, right?
Yep, and it's a really great one at that. The music and lyrics (written by Stephen Trask, who played "Skszp" in the original production), is the best part of this show. Over the past 15 years, "Hedwig" has become practically iconic. In 1998, the show won Entertainment Weekly’s "Soundtrack of the Year" Award and Time Magazine named it the Top Musical of the year.
The soundtrack also inspired a 2003 all-star charity tribute album called "Wig In A Box," which featured artists including Rufus Wainwright, Sleater-Kinney, Fred Schneider of The B-52's, They Might Be Giants, The Breeders, Yoko Ono, Yo La Tengo, Ben Kweller, Ben Folds, Cyndi Lauper, and even …. Stephen Colbert!
Two of the best tracks from "Hedwig" are "The Origin of Love" and "Midnight Radio," and it's going to be very exciting to hear Harris take them on. Listen to them, here: