Plan-B Theatre has mounted a captivating, emotionally raw "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
The highly regarded Salt Lake City company returns the live wire transgender diva to Park City, Utah's Egyptian Theatre, where the 2001 movie incarnation premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, winning both the prestigious Audience and Best Director awards for its star-creator, John Cameron Mitchell.
As Hedheads will rapturously explain, the stage version of Cameron Mitchell's "post-punk, neo-glam rock musical" premiered in 1998 at the 280-seat Off-Broadway Jane Street Theatre, where it was a two-year smash sensation.
Under direction by Plan-B founder Jerry Rapier, Aaron Swenson electrifies as Hedwig. Swenson merges a Dietrich accent with the vocal intensity of a Cher performance on board the USS Missouri battleship. Audiences enter the theater anticipating a rollicking cabaret, which Swenson-in a whimful, uncustomary brunette wig for the first act-delivers with ferocious energy; but are then surprised by their muddy Maybelline tears after Hedwig's tragic-comic quest for defiant acceptance is poignantly related.
As Yitzhak, the most famous drag queen in Zagreb, Latoya Rhodes nearly steals the spotlight with powerhouse vocals. A follow-up to her heart-rendering small-town nurse Eunice Evers in the Grand Theatre's "Miss Evers' Boys," Rhodes breaks hearts again as Hedwig's second husband.
The four-piece onstage band nearly blasts the roof off the theater, but the thrusting rock vibe never overpowers the powerful lyrics. Musicians Dave Evanoff, keys and guitar; Adam Overacker, bass; Van Christensen, drums; and Camden Chamberlain, guitar, are as responsible for the show's success as the musical actors.
Resisting any temptation to stage a camp musical, Plan-B Theatre's "Hewig and the Angry Inch" is both exuberant and emotionally rewarding.
Photos: Rick Pollock
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Blair Howell's career is in the professional publishing arena (for more years than he cares to remember), with a longstanding interest in theater. He found it to be great fun to live in New Canaan, Connecticut, with easy access to the Great White Way. But now, Blair lives in Salt Lake City (a long, not interesting story). The much-lamented move has allowed him to be more active in regional theater. He now covers theater and the arts for the Deseret News, Utah's oldest, continuously-published metro daily newspaper, and has written for various theater-related national magazines and websites. |
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