REVIEW: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH

at The Aurora Fox Arts Center

by Michael Mulhern

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH is turning up the volume at the Aurora Fox Arts Center now until February 10th. Hedwig follows a fictional band, The Angry Inch, fronted by Hedwig, a transgender East German singer/songwriter. The story unfolds as the glam-rocker and her band tour the country following former lover and superstar, Tommy Gnosis, who has stolen Hedwig’s songs, achieving great success. Resentful and alone, Hedwig shares her emotional story of growing up as a boy in East Berlin, through her botched sex change operation and incredible life journey to the United States in search of her other half.

Based on the amazing cast I knew that this show was going to be good, but I was not ready for just how good it actually was. From beginning to end this production was top notch and I was simply amazed at the way the cast and crew elevated this show. They didn’t just put on a good concert; this immensely talented cast explored the deeper  meaning that is Hedwig. I truly believe that at its very core, this show is about pain. Hedwig has carried this pain around with her for so long that she wears it like a battered suit of armor. It is this character flaw that keeps you transfixed throughout the show. The references to Denver and Colorado were a nice touch and really appealed to the audience.

Jake Mendes is a tour de force as Hedwig and carried this production with personality and charm while exploring Hedwig’s story. His singing voice was absolutely fantastic and he was memorizing in role. Norrell Moore is an absolute wonder to watch as Yitzahk. One of the most impressive qualities of Norrell’s performance was her restraint. To know this talented actress is to know a powerhouse of a voice, but this particular role had her being more of a backup singer to the diva that is Hedwig. Even for being in the background you still cannot not take your eyes off of her and her transformation at the end brought down the house.

Director Nick Sugar is no stranger to Hedwig having played the title role to critical acclaim in the past. I believe that it was his intimate knowledge of the character and the musical that brought every aspect together and made this such an amazing production. Nick along with Music Director David Nehls found the best talent for this show and pushed this cast to make Hedwig one of the best productions I have seen at the Aurora Fox.

The production design team of Brandon Case (scenic), Brett Maughan (lighting), and Curt Behm (sound) came together in perfect harmony to give us a fantastic set of industrial chic with just enough bells and whistles for a rocking show. I felt the projection design by Brian Freeland only further enhanced the show and brought it out the grittiness of Hedwig’s story. Kevin Copenhaver should receive a standing ovation for his marvelous costume design. I adored how Hedwig’s costumes were layered as if she were shedding her pain throughout the show to reveal her true self at the end. And Yitzahk’s “butterfly emerging from her cocoon” transformation from drag king to gorgeous diva was a very special moment for the audience.

I have seen Hedwig several times in my life – first at movie premiere in Colorado and more recently as the live musical. This particular production transported me back to seeing Hedwig the movie for the first time at a young(ish) age and having it awaken all of my senses and sensitivity; and I cannot wait to see it again at the Aurora Fox Arts Center!!!!

Be prepared to rock out with HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at the Aurora Fox Arts Center now through February 10th. Performances are Thursday/Friday/Saturday – 7:30 p.m.; Sun – 2 p.m. with Saturdays, Feb. 3 & 10, 7:30 p.m. & 11 p.m. For tickets or more information contact the Aurora Fox Box Office online at  www.aurorafoxartscenter.org/afac/hedwig or by calling 303-739-1970.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Jeremy Rill and Christine Fisk

 

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