PlayGuide - "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"

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Text by John Cameron Mitchell Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask Directed by Mark Clements



Text by John Cameron Mitchell Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask Directed by Mark Clements



Characters and Creative Team


Production History and the Creation of the Musical


Hedwig and the Rock Musical: Reinventing a Genre


Hedwig’s Cultural Impact


Lindsey Hoel-Neds

Hedwig’s Rock Influences


Auburn Matson

The Legend of Soulmates






Jenny Toutant Director of Education

Auburn Matson Education Administrator

Lisa Fulton

The Division of Germany and the Berlin Wall


A Guide to Gender and Sexuality Terminology


Featured Artist




Chief Marketing Officer


Hedwig and the Angry Inch – PlayGuide

SYPNOSIS Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock concert musical in which our protagonist, Hedwig, a genderqueer performer, alternates between songs and monologues which combine to tell her story. Hedwig has been following the concert tour of her former lover-turned-rockstar, Tommy Gnosis, around the country with her own concert tour in dives and strip malls. Backing her up are her band, The Angry Inch, and her assistant and spouse, Yitzhak.Yitzhak and Hedwig have a tenuous relationship and it is evident as the show continues that Hedwig is threatened by Yitzhak’s talent and Yitzhak resents her. Hedwig uses the stage to tell her life story, from her beginnings as a child of an American soldier and a harsh German mother to her rise as the glam rock goddess we meet. It is the story of Hansel, a young boy stuck in East Germany, who loves philosophy and music. As a young man, he meets an American G.I. named Luther Robinson, and the two fall in love. Luther and Hansel decide to marry, but to be married before they leave East Germany, Hansel needs to be subjected to a physical examination. Luther and Hansel’s mother devise a plan for Hansel to have his external genitalia removed so he may better pass as a woman and marry Luther. The surgery goes awry and Hansel’s anatomy is forever changed, leaving “an angry inch.” Hansel becomes Hedwig and she and Luther marry and move to the U.S. After coming to the U.S., Luther leaves Hedwig. Hedwig is heartbroken and channels her energy into starting a rock band called “The Angry Inch.” She supplements her gigs with babysitting jobs, and begins a relationship with Tommy Speck, the older brother of one of her charges. The two move their relationship from romantic to professional when they start writing songs together. He leaves Hedwig and later becomes a huge rockstar, Tommy Gnosis, by using her songs and the songs they wrote together. As the evening progresses, Hedwig’s behavior becomes more erratic and she spirals into a breakdown, that culminates at the close of the show with Hedwig coming to terms with her reality and identity.


Matt Rodin Hedwig

Bethany Thomas Yitzhak

Isabella Abel-Suarez Roadie

Lauryn Glenn Roadie

Brooke Johnson Roadie

The Angry Inch Band Maxwell Emmet Guitar Tommy Hahn Bass Joshua Ponce Roadie

Gilberto Saenz Roadie

Nadja Simmonds Roadie

Austin Winter Roadie

Patrick Morrow Drums

Scott Davis Scenic Designer

Mike Tutaj Projection Designer

David Hartig* Stage Manager

Mieka Van Der Ploeg Costume Designer

Erin Kilmurray Movement Designer

Josh Hart Stage Management Fellow

Jason Fassl Lighting Designer

Frank Honts Casting Director

Kelsey Robins Assistant Director

Barry G. Funderburg Sound Designer

Michael Cassera New York Casting


PRODUCTION HISTORY AND CREATION OF THE MUSICAL Hedwig creators John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask started their relationship through a series of coincidental circumstances which led to their collaboration. In 1994, about five years after they met during a chance encounter on an airplane, the two started discussing creating a musical. Mitchell told stories of his military commander father, his babysitter who was also a prostitute, and also the myth of soulmates. Trask would take the ideas and craft songs, which they would then work on together. Trask was working with the house band at a drag club called Squeezebox! and he and Mitchell approached the owner of the club, Michael Schmidt, about bringing their show to the club’s stage. Schmidt’s response was: “At first, I was skeptical. John was not an experienced drag performer and I wasn’t keen on the idea of my stage being used to workshop an untested act. I was concerned the other drag and transgender entertainers wouldn’t tolerate an actor who wasn’t really interested in being one of them. I explained that these other performers’ drag personae were an extension of their lives, that they make their livelihoods from entertaining in drag, and that they take their craft extremely seriously. I told him essentially that this couldn’t be a lark for him. He couldn’t play Hedwig; he had to be Hedwig.” Mitchell took already existing songs and changed the lyrics to tell Hedwig’s story in a half-hour piece. The only original song in the first mini-performance performed at Squeezebox! was “The Origin of Love.” The trial by fire was a success and the team kept workshopping it as more of a cabaret act at Squeezebox! and other venues. After several years of developing the piece, they brought it to the Westbeth Theatre for a small workshop production. After trying to shop around the piece with no takers, the team decided to produce the show in a venue of their own that had a storied history as a hotel, sex club, and a punk club. This space became the Jane Street Theatre. Once the show opened at the Jane Street, it slowly became a cult favorite and eventually gathered buzz. Celebrities and audiences started coming to the show and it gained traction in the theater community. Atlantic Records started courting the team for a record deal, complete with appearances on MTV and other media outlets. That media blitz never panned out.


Miriam Shor, who played Yitzhak in the original Off-Broadway production and the film has said of the subversive, underground history of Hedwig: “It’s always been a dark horse, but I feel like that’s how it has to be. Because they chose to deal with a million subjects that people don’t always want to deal with, like gender identity, and because they chose to make it uncomfortable in a great way and prickly — no pun intended — that if it had been a hit, then they’d be doing it wrong. Because to make a hit, everybody has to agree, ‘I’m right onboard with this from the get-go,’ and then it’s not challenging enough.” After the show’s success Off-Broadway, plans for a film version began, and the resulting creation was unlike anything most people had ever seen. The film was released in 2001, but was not a commercial success. Fans who did see Hedwig loved it and the film achieved a similar cult status to the musical itself. The film’s release created some talks about a Broadway run of the musical, but nothing ever came of it at that time. Only a decade later did the reality of a run of Hedwig on Broadway became a distinct possibility. The production team felt very strongly that Neil Patrick Harris was the right person to play Hedwig, but he was unavailable due to television and family commitments, so they waited. On March 29, 2014 Hedwig and the Angry Inch began previews on Broadway and went on to win four Tony awards: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, and Best Lighting Design of a Musical. While Harris originated the role of Hedwig on Broadway, other performers such as Taye Diggs, Andrew Rannells, Michael C. Hall, Darren Criss, and the original Hedwig, John Cameron Mitchell, also brought their own flavor to the iconic role as the run went on. The show continues to make waves throughout the United States and the world with a concluded tour and regional productions.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch – PlayGuide

Taye Diggs as Hedwig in the Broadway revival. Photo Credit: Broadway,com..

Miriam Shor as Yitzhak and John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig in the film, 2001. Photo Credit: IMDb.

Promotional Photo of Hedwig Off-Broadway cast. Photo Credit: Hedwig Robinson.

John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig/Tommy Gnosis in the Broadway revival. Photo Credit: Variety.

Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig in the Broadway revival. Photo Credit: Buzzfeed.


HEDWIG AND THE ROCK MUSICAL: REINVENTING A GENRE Hedwig and the Angry Inch is unique in the world of musical theater. While the show still follows the musical theater convention of using song to tell the story, the structure of this musical is unlike most others. In this musical, audience members are a part of the action; the fourth wall does not exist. Hedwig is performing in a club, a TGI Fridays, a supper club, or some other place that is intimate and the boundary between performer and audience is blurred. Hedwig speaks to the audience directly throughout the show. There is a balance between music, monologues, and almost stand-up comedy which depends on audience reaction and interaction. The balance between a cabaret-style show and rock concert is one of the things that makes this show so special. The rock concert that is the center of the show is also unique in its style and existence in the world of musical theater. Generally, musicals use the music to enhance the storytelling during a more narrative plot and story structure. In Hedwig the concert is the cen-

tral location and the rest of the story is told through monologues by Hedwig, much like the chorus in a Greek tragedy relays major parts of the plot. The styles of music that Hedwig sings were also novel for musical theater of the late 1990s and broke the rules for a new generation of theatrical creators. Punk, glam rock, and the like were not common styles seen in American musical theater at the time. In the ensuing years, musicals such as American Idiot and Spring Awakening have played with harder rock genres. Hedwig and the Angry Inch created something magical and unique when it premiered over twenty years ago. Prepare for an experience unlike any other in the musical theater world.

John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig in the film. Photo Credit: Birth.Movies.Death.

Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig amongst audience members during the Broadway revival. Photo Credit: Reuters.


Hedwig and the Angry Inch – PlayGuide

Lena Hall as Yitzhak in the Broadway revival. Photo Credit: HuffPost. John Cameron Mitchell in final scene of Hedwig film. Photo Credit: Vimeo

John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig. Photo Credit: Youtube.

HEDWIG’S CULTURAL IMPACT While much has changed in the twenty-plus years since Hedwig and the Angry Inch first premiered Off-Broadway, the musical’s impact on fans and culture is still powerful today. Hedwig was created in a time when attitudes and understanding of gender and sexuality were very different. While a huge part of the story is about Hedwig exploring and understanding her own gender and sexuality, terms and ideas surrounding that exploration were very different at the turn of the millenium. Hedwig’s story shows the audience her journey from being controlled by others’ expectations of her gender and sexuality to her embracing and understanding herself in new ways. Hedwig creator John Cameron Mitchell now refers to Hedwig as a genderqueer character, but acknowledges that the words for Hedwig’s gender identity didn’t even seem to exist when he created her. Hedwig also undergoes a coerced surgery in order to be able to marry and escape East Germany. This mutilation of her body is one of the most troubling aspects of Hedwig’s story and her resulting trauma is evident in her reactions to the event. Today, discussions about modifications of sex characteristics, even in regards to parents of infants, are much more focused on the bodily autonomy of the individual, not the desires of the guardian or other parties.

Our understanding of trauma and the life-long effects of it have also evolved in the ensuing years since Hedwig first premiered. Hedwig may not have had the language to express it in those terms, but her story reflects trauma and its impact in a powerful way. From her forced surgery to her childhood abuse to her abandonment by her husband, Hedwig has gone through much and lets audiences experience the world through her eyes and her life story. Creator John Cameron Mitchell has said of the original productions of Hedwig: “Drag was considered low class and punk rock was not in theater,” he says, on the phone. “It opened up for young people a way into thinking about queer and thinking about AIDS and thinking about the beautiful tapestry that was New York.” Hedwig and the Angry Inch confronts issues that were taboo for its time, but still pushes the boundaries of what musical theater can do and asks questions that leave audiences talking.


HEDWIG’S ROCK INFLUENCES The music of Hedwig and the Angry Inch broke boundaries of what musical theater can be and drew its inspiration from many styles of music. Hedwig the character, speaks about several of her early influencers in her many monologues, some of whom were decidedly not rock n’ roll: Captain and Tennille, Debby Boone, and Anne Murray to name a few. The musical itself is much more in line with a few of Hedwig’s other early influencers like Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop. Hedwig and the Angry Inch proudly experiments with glam rock, heavy metal, and a little punk, as well as soaring rock ballads. A little history of these ground-breaking genres:

David Bowie. Photo Credit: Pinterest.

Glam Rock: Glam rock started in Great Britain in the early 1970s and rejected the false sincerity and earnestness of folk and protest rock that emerged in the 60s. The artifice was a vital part of the performance and the art - authenticity was not feigned. Glam rock freely pilfered from all different schools of rock, from hard rock to folk rock to heavy metal. Glam rockers celebrated the theatricality of performance and of the rock n’ roll scene, embracing over-the-top costuming, makeup, and personas. Glam rockers also played with sexual and gender ambiguity erasing the line between gendered norms. Notable glam rockers included: David Bowie, Lou Reed, Kiss, Queen, Gary Glitter, and T. Rex. Punk Rock: Punk rock began as a sort of underground subculture that emerged as a rejection of everything that Glam rock embraced. Punk came from a world that rejected the materialism and commoditization of the art of rock and as such, embraced tougher, more raw style and emotion in both looks and music. Much of punk culture came from working class youths in both the U.K. and the U.S. and eventually became a deeply political and social type of music, even though the genre did not start out that way. Notable early punk rockers included: Iggy and the Stooges, the Ramones, Patti Smith, The Clash, and the Sex Pistols. Heavy Metal: Heavy Metal as a genre began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, mostly in Great Britain, but eventually expanded well beyond the U.K. The sound had roots in many different musical styles from blues to psychedelic rock, but focused heavily on creating a massive sound with extended guitar solos, strong beats, sometimes aggressive lyrics, and generally loud volume. While fans of early metal groups were devoted, the music was often panned by critics. Notable early heavy metal groups included: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple.

Sex Pistols. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Lou Reed. Photo Credit: New York Post

Black Sabbath. Photo Credit: Louder.


Hedwig and the Angry Inch – PlayGuide

“ORIGINS OF LOVE”: THE LEGEND OF SOULMATES IN PLATO’S SYMPOSIUM, HE HAS ARISTOPHANES PRESENT A STORY OF THE ORIGIN OF THE IDEA OF SOULMATES. THE STORY GOES: “Humans have never understood the power of Love, for if they had they would surely have built noble temples and altars and offered solemn sacrifices; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to be done, since Love is our best friend, our helper, and the healer of the ills which prevent us from being happy. To understand the power of Love, we must understand that our original human nature was not like it is now, but different. Human beings each had two sets of arms, two sets of legs, and two faces looking in opposite directions. There were three sexes then: one comprised of two men called the children of the Sun, one made of two women called the children of the Earth, and a third made of a man and a woman, called the children of the Moon. Due to the power and might of these original humans, the Gods began to fear that their reign might be threatened. They sought for a way to end the humans’ insolence without destroying them. It was at this point that Zeus divided the humans in half. After the division, the two parts of each desiring their other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of humankind. Each of us when separated, having one side only, is but the indenture of a person, and we are always looking for our other half. Those whose original nature lies with the children of the Sun are men who are drawn to other men, those from the children of the Earth are women who love other women, and those from the children of the Moon are men and women drawn to one another. And when one of us meets our other half, we are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight even for a moment. We pass our whole lives together, desiring that we should be melted into one, to spend our lives as one person instead of two, and so that after our death there will be one departed soul instead of two; this is the very expression of our ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called Love.”

Animation stills from Hedwig and the Angry Inch film, 2001. Photo Credit: Youtube.




Crowds stand on top of and surround the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. Photo Credit:


Hedwig and the Angry Inch – PlayGuide

Following WWII, Germany was divided into British, French, American, and Soviet occupation zones. The city of Berlin was also split, with the Communist Soviets taking the eastern part of the city. In 1948, an Allied airlift stopped a Soviet attempt to blockade West Berlin. As a result, East Berlin became even more tightly controlled. Over the next twelve years, almost three million Germans left East Germany for West Germany for opportunity and safety. In 1961, the Soviets devised a plan to stop the hemorrhaging at its border of its citizenry to West Germany.

Construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Photo Credit:

In August of 1961, soldiers started laying barbed wire for over 100 miles slightly within the East Berlin boundaries. Soon, it was replaced by a six-foot-high, 96 mile long concrete wall topped with guard towers and searchlights. Guards patrolled the wall day and night. The height of the wall was raised to ten feet in 1970 and it became one of the most iconic symbols of the Cold War. Between 1961 and 1989, thousands of East Germans tried to escape, but only 5,000 succeeded. Shootings of defectors fueled the West’s hatred of the Soviet regime. In the late 1980s, the Soviet regime fell into decline and Germany implemented a number of reforms. In January of 1989, East German leader Erich Honecker declares “The Wall will stand in 50, even 100 years,” amidst growing protests. On November 9th, the new party leader in East Germany says that the following day all East Germans will be able to travel to the West if they apply for an exit visa. After a mix-up over the announcement, masses of East and West Germans gathered at the wall, beginning to climb on it and dismantle it. The fall of the Berlin Wall became a symbol of civil disobedience, freedom, and community action as well as the end of the Cold War. East and West Germany became a single nation again when a formal reunification treaty was signed in October of 1990.

Map of East and West Berlin. Photo Credit: The Independent.




Hedwig and the Angry Inch – PlayGuide


internal, deeply held sense of gender. Some people identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, some with another gender entirely, some with neither gender or no gender at all.

GENDER EXPRESSION - The external expression of one’s gender through things such as names, pronouns, dress, body appearance, voice, and more. The most common pronouns used are he, she, or they, but you may hear people using others such as xe or hir.

SEX - Sex is often assigned at

birth based on external anatomy and is often confused with gender. Sex is actually a combination of physical characteristics including chromosomes, hormones, reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics. As a result, there are many more sexes than just the binary male and female.


The desire, or lack thereof, one has for romantic, emotional, or sexual relationships with others based on their gender expression, gender identity, and/or sex. Many people choose to label their sexual orientation, but many do not.

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is attracted to people of their own gender as well as a different gender. Some people use this term as an umbrella term for those who are attracted to all genders, making it similar to pansexual or omnisexual.

CISGENDER - A person whose

gender identity matches the gender or sex they were assigned at birth.

GAY - Someone who is attracted

to people of their own gender. Often used as an umbrella term, but more specifically focuses on men attracted to other men.


some individuals undergo to help their physical appearance better align with their gender identity. Avoid terms such as: “gender reassignment,” “sex change,” or “pre/post-op” and in general, avoid overemphasizing surgery or other medical treatments when discussing transgender people or transition. *Using these terms or phrases negates the authentic experiences of transgender people as well as their gender, and also places emphasis on the biological specifics over the complete person. Also, if one emphasizes surgery, one is commenting on another’s genitals or sex organs and respect and privacy should be no different than if one were talking to a cis person.*


whose gender identity or gender expression does not conform to the cultural expectations surrounding gender, especially in relation to the gender binary of male and female. This can be an umbrella term for many different gender identities including, but not limited to: agender, genderfluid, genderqueer, bigender, intergender, or pangender.

INTERSEX - Someone who,

due to a variety of biological factors, including chromosomes, reproductive anatomy, hormones, etc. that does not seem to fit the typical definitions of male or female sex. Many intersex people identify with the gender they were assigned at birth and many do not.

LESBIAN - A woman who is attracted to other women.

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TRANSITION - The process

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch – PlayGuide




MATSON: Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an iconic piece and our audience might know the movie or have already seen a production of it. What was your inspiration for the set design?

DAVIS: The play takes place in a punk club in a specific time. My main research for it was a club in New York

(it’s not there anymore, it closed) actually called CBGB, which was an old school punk club. It’s one of those where the history of the club is layered in the walls. That entire place is covered in stickers and posters of every band. It’s the layering and layering of it that it feels that such a rich history in that place, but it’s also super grunge and it’s not the nice theater. We are treating it like the Stiemke. So when you come to see the show, we are not treating it like any place else: It’s the Stiemke, there’s a sign that says Stiemke hung in the space. We are playing off the idea that the other band is playing in the Powerhouse right through the other side of the rolling doors, and that is the main venue. This is the grunge second-story venue that Hedwig is playing in.

MATSON: What experience are you trying to create for this audience? DAVIS: We are tearing down the space, exposing the entire theater, and letting the energy of the Stiemke

shine through. It’s inherently about our space, there is no separation. In the lobby where you get your tickets and coat check, that entire space has been clad and changed into an environment that tells our story. You are already plummeted into the world we are trying to experience the minute you walk into the Stiemke theater. The lobby is also designed to feel like the grunge club. We redid the bar and there are non-gender bathrooms. By the time you are sitting in your seat, you already have a feel of what the world is. You already understand where we are trying to put you.

MATSON: How was designing this period and working with the sound and lighting designers? DAVIS: It’s like designing a rock concert, in that as the set designer, I had to design in lights and sound

equipment. I designed what I thought looked cool, and I would throw it to the lighting designer, and the lighting designer would be like, “Well, it actually needs to be this kind of stuff,” and it became this huge back-and-forth between sound and lighting. I would start drawing, or modeling out something that I thought, “that looks really cool,” without having any idea of the sound array or light capabilities. That kicked off the conversation, then it was a lot of back-and-forth in terms of what kind of lights, where do they go, how to get the effects we want.

MATSON: What are some cool details that the audience should look out for in the scenic design? DAVIS: A lot of the posters are real. We collected them from real bands. There is not a lot of stuff that is

made up. There is a lot of cool rock, punk, grunge history in that room which is kind of incredible. The cool thing about the posters is back then people made posters on Xerox machines. You would cut stuff out, put it together on Xerox, and make it. So we wanted that energy to be alive in there.





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The Legend of Georgia McBride – PlayGuide

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