John Cameron Mitchell Returned After Injury, Next Hedwig Announced

The Original Hedwig Playing His Creation on Broadway

john cameron mitchellHedwig and the Angry Inch, created by John Cameron Mitchell, premiered on Broadway on March 29, 2014. The show originally opened Off-Broadway in 1998, starring Mitchell in the title role of the gender-bending East German rock performer. He also wrote and starred in the 2001 film version. When Hedwig came to Broadway for the first time, however, the producers and Mitchell felt that he was no longer in his prime, and thus the lead role was given to Neil Patrick Harris, who won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. After Harris departed, the role was played by Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, Girls), followed by Michael C. Hall (Dexter). However, to the delight of diehard Hedwig fans, it was announced that John Cameron Mitchell himself would be stepping in to play the role after all, with his first performance on January 21, 2015. Originally, he was slated to perform for just six weeks until March 14, 2015, as a trial run to see if he had enough stamina to play the intensive part at this point in his career. Fortunately, he was brilliant as always, and fans flocked to see him, and thus he announced that he would extend his run until April 26, 2015.

Mitchell Sustained Knee Injury, Michael C. Hall Stepped Inhedwig lena hall

Unfortunately, on February 7, 2015, Mitchell injured his knee during the performance. He continued on until the end of the 7pm show, but the later 10pm show that night was cancelled. At the time, the show’s representatives tweeted that he planned to return for the next scheduled performance on the following Tuesday, and that doctors were examining him. However, they then announced that one week later, Michael C. Hall would return to the role to allow Mitchell time for his injury to heal. From February 17 to 21, therefore, Hall donned the wig once again. In the week where Mitchell performed with a knee brace, he made the best of the humorous situation. One joke, for instance, was “You’re seeing the original cast!” Furthermore, he played on the dominating relationship Hedwig has with his co-star Yitzhak by making her attend to his injury, demanding that she place a crate underneath his propped foot, while he sat on an elevated chair so that he could still be visible while seated. As planned, after a week of performances by Michael C. Hall, Mitchell returned to the stage on February 24, 2015, and he plans to continue as announced until April 26, 2015.

The Next Hedwig: Darren Criss

GQ Celebrates The Grammys With Giorgio Armani - ArrivalsFollowing Mitchell’s departure, Darren Criss (Glee) will step into the spotlight on April 29, 2015 for a run of 12 weeks through summer. Criss’ huge fanbase was evidenced by his brief turn on Broadway in 2012, when he replaced Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. At the time, he significantly boosted ticket sales for the three weeks he played the part. Therefore, this appears to be a good move for the show’s producers, who hope to keep it running as long as possible by bringing in a string of stars who appeal to a variety of audience members. Furthermore, the second and only other main character in the musical, Yitzhak, has been played by Lena Hall since the start of the revival. Hall wonrebecca naomi jones the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, and has been the Yitzhak to all four Hedwigs so far: Harris, Rannells, Hall, and Mitchell. However, she has recently announced that her last performance in the role will be April 4, 2015. The new Yitzhak will be played by Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot, Passing Strange), who will step in on April 14, 2015. In the interim week, the role will be played by understudy Shannon Conley. Therefore, Jones will play opposite John Cameron Mitchell for less than two weeks, before partnering with Darren Criss to continue the tradition of Hedwig on Broadway.

‘The Realistic Joneses’ Opens on Broadway

It’s not an easy time for a new play to thrive on Broadway.  The Realistic Joneses, which opened on April 6, 2014 to largely positive reviews, is still struggling to stay afloat at the box office.  This is the Broadway debut for playwright Will Eno, who is known for his less accessible but equally quirky Off-Broadway works such as Thom Pain (based on nothing) and Middletown.  The play premiered in May 2012 at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.  Both the regional and Broadway productions are directed by Sam Gold, whose remarkable career rise has confirmed him as the go-to director for adventurous new plays, especially those that feature a casual, realistic writing style.  Of the four actors in the cast, only one has remained for the transfer – Tracy Letts, who is the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of August: Osage County as well as the Tony Award winning actor from last year’s revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The Realistic Joneses on Broadway

The Realistic Joneses on Broadway

The other three roles are played by Toni Collette, who has been on Broadway once before in The Wild Party, Michael C. Hall, who has played Broadway musical leads in both Cabaret and Chicago, and Marisa Tomei, who has previously appeared in three Broadway plays: Top Girls, Salome, and Wait Until Dark.  Though all three actors are much better known for their film work, these names are by no means box office gold of the likes of Denzel Washington, Daniel Radcliffe, or James Franco, who are presently competing for audience attention on Broadway, also in straight plays.  Whereas musicals can often survive on Broadway without Hollywood stars, especially if they feature a familiar title, plays rarely enter the greater national consciousness without a special boost.

Although The New York Times critic Charles Isherwood gave the play an unqualified rave, marking it as a Critics’ Pick, the box office was actually worse for this past week than the one preceding it.  For the week ending in April 6, 2014, gross ticket sales were $410,334, down $51,902 from the previous week.  However, it must be noted that the week leading up to a show’s opening includes numerous performances designated as “press performances,” for which complimentary tickets are offered to critics from a wide array of publications.  This would partly explain the lower gross, especially in light of the fact that the average ticket price also went down that week to $67.88 from $82.62 the week before.

The play is scheduled to run until July 6, 2014.  Its producers, Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, often take gambles with shows that are not guaranteed slam dunks.  In this same season, they also are producing All the Way, a new play but with the box office support of its star Bryan Cranston, The Bridges of Madison County, a musical with a familiar title that is struggling to stay alive, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which features Broadway favorite Audra McDonald as the timeless favorite Billie Holiday.  Though The Realistic Joneses may be this producing team’s most risky show on Broadway right now, they have made a habit of mounting shows by recognized playwrights, which may or may not have stars.  In any case, it is to their credit that they manage to support new writing in a climate where few dare to take such ventures, seeking to overcome the bias against plays without megastars.