After their highly successful and extended run last May through September, Hedwig and the Angry Inch returns to the Lower Ossington Theatre (LOT) for a limited four-week engagement, directed by Alan Kinsella with musical direction by Mike Ross.
With music and lyrics by Stephen Trask and book by John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a rock and roll band (The Angry Inch) fronted by a gender-queer singer from communist East Berlin, named Hedwig Robinson (Ephraim Ellis). Hedwig (formally Hansel) assumes a female persona after undergoing a botched sex change operation, which was performed to allow him to marry an American man and escape East Germany.
The stage production is presented so the audience is watching Hedwig’s musical act as they follow rock star Tommy Gnosis’ much more successful tour around the country. Hedwig is determined to tell her life story to the audience with the aid of her assistant, back-up singer and husband, Yitzhak (Kit Boulter). As the evening dramatically progresses, Hedwig finally finds acceptance within herself, strips out of drag, and offers her wig to Yitzhak, allowing him to finally take the stage alone.
The LOT’s Studio Theatre provides an intimate space, which is converted into a perfect concert venue, with eight floor tables and the rest of the seating behind on risers. Mikael Kangas’ perfect lighting design drives the concert feeling home and works wonderfully alongside the glittery and fun costume design by Kathleen Black.
Ephraim Ellis is successful as he steps in to fill the heels of Hedwig for this remount, and brings an amazing amount of emotional depth to the character, making it impossible not to sympathize with her stories (no matter how bizarre they might be). Kit Boulter truly steals the show with her phenomenal harmonies and flawless gender bending. Memorable numbers include “The Origin of Love,” “Wig in a Box,” and “Random Number Generation.” The live band proves unbeatable – contrary to Hedwig’s thoughts – and is comprised of very talented musicians, though at times it did overpower the vocals and important lyrics.
Though this production could surely benefit from some fine-tuning and tightening, it nonetheless provides its audience with a high-voltage, hilarious, and surprisingly emotional piece of theatre. The LOT’s bold remount of Hedwig and the Angry Inch is not to be missed!
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is playing now through June 13th (on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings) in the Studio Theatre at the Lower Ossington Theatre (100A Ossington Avenue, Toronto). Tickets range from $49.99-$219.99. For more information call the Box Office at 416-915-6747 or visit http://lowerossingtontheatre.com.