“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” Plays Final Performance

Year and a Half Run Goes Out With a Bang

hedwig coverOn September 13, 2015, Hedwig and the Angry Inch played its final performance at the Belasco Theatre. The show had been running on Broadway since it began previews on March 29, 2014, followed by its official opening night on April 22, 2014. With a book by John Cameron Mitchell, and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, the show first premiered Off-Broadway in 1998, starring John Cameron Mitchell in the title role. At that time, the show won an Obie Award and Outer Critics Circle Award and ran for two years, followed by a run in London’s West End. However, it wasn’t until 2014 that Broadway was brave enough to take on this risqué, small-scale musical about an androgynous rock musician who was raised in East Berlin. However, it was well worth the wait, as the show took home the 2014 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Furthermore, the show broke the record for the longest running production at the Belasco Theatre. The character of Hedwig is a German young man who becomes a woman in order to marry a U.S. soldier and escape life in East Berlin; however, once he arrives in America he is abandoned and forced to make his life as a single, transsexual with a botched sex change operation. In addition to taking place at this fascinating time in history, the style of the musical is steeped in the gorgeous and colorful aesthetic of 1970s glam rock, inspired by the likes of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and John Lennon.

Excellent Box Office with Opening Cast, Success Throughout the Runhedwig and the angry inch neil patrick harris title

When the show began its run, the lead actor was played by Neil Patrick Harris, a big box office favorite who managed to sell out with grosses over 100% of gross potential and weekly box office over one million dollars for multiple weeks. In Harris’ final week of performances, the show reached its record high of a weekly box office gross of $1,139,903, reaching an astounding 136.61% of its gross potential. The top ticket price has remained $248.00 throughout the run, but that week it reached a peak average paid admission of $158.83. In the show’s final week of performances, it brought in less than it had been bringing in at the beginning of the run, but still a significant increase from the lower grosses that the later performances had been seeing. In the week ending September 13, 2015, the show brought in $625,159, which represents 88.12% of its gross potential, with an average paid admission of $88.57. This is up by $178,208 from the week before, the penultimate week.

A String of Fantastic Hedwigs: Harris, Rannells, Hall, Mitchell, Criss, Diggs

The other actors who played Hedwig did not perform as well at the box office; however they were all very exciting performers who brought originality and pizzazz to the role. The next man to take on this challenging role was Andrew Rannells, who rose to fame after playing the opening cast lead role of Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon. The next Hedwig was played by Michael C. Hall, well known for his role on Dexter amongst other shows. As the fourth Hedwig, a landmark occasion took place as John Cameron Mitchell returned to Broadway to play the role he created, but this time at age 50. Though he was indeed magnificent, the role did at one time prove a bit strenuous, as Mitchell injured his knee and had to take a few performances off, returning with his leg in a cast. With utter grace and charm, he continued to play the role of Hedwig marvelously despite his injured state. Following Mitchell, Darren Criss from Glee took over the role. Finally, for the closing weeks, Hedwig was played by Taye Diggs, well known from the original cast of Rent among other productions. The show will continue on the road, with a national tour commencing in San Francisco on October 4, 2016, as well as international performances in London and Australia.

If/Then Begins Previews, With Idina Menzel, But Not With Adele Dazeem

Idina Menzel in if/then on BroadwayIdina Menzel has returned to the Broadway stage for the first time in almost 10 years.  If/Then, a new musical by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning team behind Next to Normal) began previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.  The musical is directed by Michael Greif, who first cast Idina in the role that became her big break – Maureen in Rent – and it is produced by David Stone, who mounted the production that earned her a 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical – for playing Elphaba in Wicked.  In If/Then, she plays a woman named Elizabeth on the verge of turning 40 who, after a divorce, decides to move to New York City to make a fresh start.  The official opening will be on Sunday, March 30, 2014.

If/Then is the only new musical this spring season that is not based on pre-existing source material.  With the marketplace competition dominated by recognizable titles such as Rocky, Aladdin, Bullets Over Broadway, and The Bridges of Madison County, If/Then might have a tough time standing out.

However, national awareness of this show and its star was unintentionally heightened during this past Sunday’s Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, broadcast, when John Travolta infamously mispronounced Idina Menzel’s name while introducing her performance of the song Let It Go from the Disney animated film Frozen.  Without displaying any sign of recognizing his error, Travolta presented her as “Adele Dazeem.”  Social media has been in an uproar about this flub ever since, and people who had never even heard of Idina Menzel now know that her name is, in fact, Idina Menzel.

Apparently, the producers of If/Then realized the benefits of this tangential publicity, as the show’s official twitter account referred to the Oscars incident by tweeting “You Know Her Name.  Idina Menzel stars in If/Then on Broadway March 5th.”  Furthermore, a less official statement, but one that is still traceable to the production team, made its way across the cybersphere.  In what appeared to be an insert from the Playbill for If/Then, a picture of Idina from the Oscars was accompanied by the text: “At this performance the role of “Elizabeth” will be played by “Adele Dazeem.””  A joke bio then followed which cited her as having played “Moritz” in Nert, followed by “Ephraima” in Wicked-ly, and referred her voice performance in the Disney animated musical Farfignugen.  (Clearly this was a play on “Maureen” in Rent, “Elphaba” in Wicked, and Frozen.)  Though the note has been confirmed not to have truly been inserted into Playbills in the theatre, it fooled many people who thought it was real.  Among others, the image was tweeted by Janet Krupin, an actress in If/Then.  As those inside the theatre’s doors were spreading the prank, it is possible that the producers were the ones behind it, taking advantage of the added exposure from Travolta’s blunder.

taye diggs and idina menzel

In any case, Idina Menzel already has a huge fan base from her vast success in her career thus far, and hopefully the show’s merits will allow it to shine at the box office.  The musical had a pre-Broadway engagement at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. from November 5, 2013 to December 8, 2013, the reviews for which were not wildly positive.  Though critics praised Idina’s performance as well as the score, the storyline was reportedly muddled.  The musical features a “Sliding Doors” – style plot with two “what-if” scenarios played out side-by-side, as Elizabeth becomes both the characters “Liz” and “Beth.”  Audiences found this a bit difficult to follow.  Still, fixing kinks is what out-of-town tryouts are for, and hopefully the creative team has had time to refine the plot structure in the intervening months.

The story is actually not far from Idina’s own experience.  She recently separated from her husband of 10 years and Rent co-star Taye Diggs, and at age 42, she is struggling to be a mother to her four year-old son while revitalizing her Broadway career.  After attempting to develop herself as a singer-songwriter in Los Angeles in the years since Wicked, she is now ready to take on this role which is surprisingly close to her heart.  A naturally raw and vulnerable performer, audiences can expect that her character will pulsate with the truth of her own experience, not to mention the gravity-defying power of her sensational singing voice – no matter what her name is: Idina, Adele, Elizabeth, Liz, or Beth.