“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” Recoups on Broadway

An Astounding Success

hedwig and the angry inch neil patrick harris titleJohn Cameron Mitchell’s glam rock musical about a German transvestite has turned a profit on Broadway.  Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch began its Broadway premiere at the Belasco Theatre on March 29, 2014, with its official opening on April 22, 2014.  Though this is the first time the show has been in a Broadway theatre, it was considered a revival for purposes of Tony consideration because it premiered Off-Broadway and has had many productions around the world, as well as a feature film adaptation.  In that regard, the show scored big at the Tony’s.  It was nominated for eight awards, winning four: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Neil Patrick Harris), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Lena Hall), and Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams).

Neil Patrick Harris to be Replaced by Andrew Rannells after August 17th

Though the production was originally slated to have a limited engagement concluding on August 17, 2014, the show has announced that it will remain open due to robust ticket sales.  Instead, the star performer will be replaced by Andrew Rannells, who made a name for himself by starring as Elder Price in the original Broadway cast of The Book of Mormon, and who is also a
regular cast member on HBO’s “Girls.”  Though the excellent box office performance was due in part to the star power of Neil Patrick Harris, the show has now laid firm ground for continued success, and Rannells will certainly shine in the lead part.  The big question is whether the profits will continue to be as astounding with Rannells in the part.

A Financial Slam Dunkneil patrick harris in performance as hedwig in hedwig and the angry inch

The show recouped in a magnificently efficient 15 weeks.  Though the budget was exceedingly low for a musical at only $5 million, the critical and commercial was better than anyone could have expected.  The recoupment occurred in the week ending July 13, 2014.  In that week, the musical grossed $1,072,311, which was 128.51% of its gross potential.  In the week ending July 20, 2014, the show did even better, reaping in $1,088,660, which was 130.47% of its gross potential.  Though that was the highest gross potential percentage for the production to date, it has consistently been well over 100%, with only 2 weeks near the start of the run when the show made less than 100% of its gross potential.  The top ticket price is $248, which is lower than some, and the average ticket price has always been over $100, generally closer to $150 in recent weeks.  This demonstrates extreme demand for the show, as discounting is not at all necessary, and audience members are vying for limited seating availability.

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” Opens on Broadway

Hedwig and the Angry Inch first hit the Off-Broadway stage in 1998, and it has taken 16 years for this gender-bending rock musical to find the Great White Way.  In this time, its book-writer and original star John Cameron Mitchell, though forever ageless in the mind of his fans, has sadly aged beyond the prime energy levels required to sustain this magnificently vibrant performance, which requires the lead to carry the entire show on his shoulders.  Fortunately, however, Neil Patrick Harris has stepped up to the post at the Belasco Theatre, and according to the unanimous response from critics, he does so to stupendous success.  Directed by Michael Mayer and choreographed by Spencer Liff, Hedwig and the Angry Inch has music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, along with the book by John Cameron Mitchell.

With its style rooted in thedwig and the angry inch neil patrick harris titlehe androgynous glam rock of the 1970s, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the story of a struggling East German rock star named Hansel during the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Hedwig is homosexual turned accidental transsexual, so to speak, as his tragic story originates with his desire to marry another man, and in so doing escape the communist East for the capitalist West.  However, his sex change operation gets botched, and instead of a makeshift vagina, Hansel a.k.a. Hedwig ends up with a one-inch mound of flesh.  After Hedwig moves to Kansas with her new husband, he leaves her for a man and she forms a rock band called Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  The story, divulged by means of a spectacular rock concert, continues as Hedwig tells of her encounter with a lonely Christian teenager, who becomes a famous rock star named Tommy Gnosis and leaves her in the wake of his success.

For purposes of Tony consideration, this musical is considered a revival, although this is its first time on Broadway.  (The same thing happened with this season’s production of Violet.)  This is because many productions have been done of the show since its Off-Broadway premiere.  Still, it has earned a remarkable eight Tony Award nominations, including those for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actor in a Musical.  (Coincidentally, Harris has hosted the Tony Awards four times.)  In addition, a well-known film version was released in 2001, immortalizing John Cameron Mitchell as the anti-hero he created.  Though that film may not have been a financial success, having grossed just over half of its $6 million budget, it is widely regarded as a beautiful and unique masterpiece of the screen.  With this history, many doubted if Neil Patrick Harris could hold a candle to his fellow three named predecessor.  Fortunately, with the opening of the Broadway production on April 22, 2014, the results are in, and Harris is a winner.neil patrick harris in performance as hedwig in hedwig and the angry inch

Neil Patrick Harris has appeared on Broadway three times prior to this: as Hal in Proof in 2002, as the Emcee in Cabaret in 2003, and as Lee Harvey Oswald in the 2004 production of Assassins.  However, he is best known for his television roles, specifically for starring in How I Met Your Mother as well as Doogie Howser, M.D.  If the magnificent reviews and the eager cult following were not enough to make this a sell-out hit, then Harris’ star power will convince the less daring theatregoers to give this risqué piece a try.  Fortunately, the box office is holding up to its potential.  Bringing in over $700,000 per week, Hedwig has maintained sell-out capacity as well as an average ticket price of well over $100.  This may be no The Book of Mormon, but this small-scale edgy rock show seems to have found its audience.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch is presently scheduled to have an open-ended run.