HOME and the Angry Inch
By Jay Darcy
‘I’m the new Berlin Wall. Try and tear me down!’
A HOME and Leeds Playhouse co-production, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask and a book by John Cameron Mitchell (who also directed and starred in the original production, as the title character).
The musical follows Hedwig Robinson, a genderqueer East German singer of a fictional rock and roll band. The story draws on Mitchell’s life as the child of a U.S. Army major general who once commanded the U.S. sector of occupied West Berlin. The character of Hedwig was inspired by a German divorced U.S. Army wife who was Mitchell’s family babysitter and moonlighted as a prostitute at her trailer park home in Junction City, Kansas. The music is steeped in the androgynous 1970s glam rock style of David Bowie (who co-produced the Los Angeles production of the show), as well as the work of John Lennon and early punk performers Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.
The musical always has an incredible cast. As aforementioned, the original off-Broadway production (1998) starred its writer/director John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig – alongside Miriam Shor as Yitzhak. Notable replacements for Hedwig were Michael Cerveris, Donovan Leitch, Ally Sheedy, Kevin Cahoon, and Matt McGrath. Michael Cerveris was then part of the original London cast (2000), alongside Elizabeth Marsh.
When the show finally hit Broadway (2014), Neil Patrick Harris was the star of the show, alongside Lena Hall. Notable replacements were Andrew Rannells, Michael C. Hall, John Cameron Mitchell, Darren Criss and Taye Diggs for Hedwig, and Shannon Conley and Rebecca Naomi Jones for Yatzhik. Criss and Hall then went on to star in the original US national tour (2016). Notable replacements include Euan Morton and Mason Alexander Park for Hedwig, and Shannon Conley for Yitzhak.
Regional productions have starred Anthony Rapp, Jeff Skowron, Nick Garrison, iOTA, Donovan Leitch (the glam-rocker son of sixties folk-rock composer Donovan) and Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon (no stranger to Manchester).
Hall is particularly important for fans of this musical. In 2014, the musical won a total of 4 awards out of 8 nominations. The awards were Best Revival, Best Actor (Patrick Harris), Best Actress (Hall), and Best Lighting Design (Kevin Adams). That’s not all though: when Hall starred in the touring production, she played the role of Hedwig for one performance a week, making her the first actor to play both roles in the same production!
So, the musical always has quite the cast, and this new production is no different. Directed by Jamie Fletcher, it stars divine drag queen and sensational songstress Divina De Campo, who is no stranger to musical theatre. I saw them years back, in Dancing Bear, a new musical that explores faith, sexuality and gender identity. This was after their appearance on The Voice but before their appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (where she was runner-up) and All Together Now (where she was one of the 100 judges). She also played Mary Sunshine in the early run of the current tour of Chicago – which has had quite the cast (seemingly playing musical chairs), including Sheila Ferguson (former lead singer of the Three Degrees) and Gemma Collins (The Only Way is Essex) as Matron “Mama” Morton.
In 2021, de Campo made appearances at Hope Mill Theatre’s Turn On Fest, a virtual, Manchester-based, LGBTQ performing arts festival, Dukes Lancaster and the Lawrence Batley Theatre’s digital revival of The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Parking Lot Social Easter Panto (a drive-in show). They are also set to voice the role of Popcorn Reilly in Alaska’s Drag: The Musical, a studio recording of a planned stage production about two rival drag bars that go head-to-head while struggling through financial troubles.
Yatzhik, however, is set to be portrayed by the relatively unknown Elijah Ferreira – though they proved their worth in Safe at Hackney Empire. A digital verbatim theatre piece on homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ young people, Safe is a raw, edgy and challenging piece that also explores the themes of gender, sexuality, identity, childhood, family, addiction, relationships, religion, class, race and what it means to be truly safe in today’s world. Performed by an out-LGBTQ cast, it combines the young people’s interweaving verbatim testimonies with live music and spoken-word written especially for Safe by acclaimed poet Yrsa Daley Ward. An uplifting and inspiriting celebration of the power of queer survival, it shares many themes and ideas with Hedwig.
This new production is said to be “a euphoric night on the rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster with singer Hedwig – a hedonistic genderqueer anti-heroine seemingly hellbent on destruction”. A darkly humorous self-love story, powered by a live band, epic rock-inspired music and hard-hitting lyrics, it explores gender identity, acceptance and the freedom to be whoever you want to be!
Hedwig and the Angry Inch runs at HOME from 27th April – 11th May, following on from its run at Leeds Playhouse.
There will also be a series of meet and greets with Divina De Campo available – before the evening performances on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th April, and Thursday 5th, Friday 6th and Saturday 7th May. To book a meet and greet, simply add your tickets to the basket. When you proceed to check out, you will be asked if you’d like to add a meet and greet to your order. Add the meet and greet to your order and confirm payment. Simple as that!