The lasting impact of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as it hits Atlanta for the first time since becoming a Broadway blockbuster
By Matthew Holley
When a heralded transgender woman rocks like a superstar and pulls heartstrings like a broken ingénue, audiences take notice. When it’s a show that was a legend even before a Broadway run that rivals most any other rock musicals, gay Atlanta stands up and cheers.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch brings that magic to Atlanta in a limited run on April 4-5 at the Fox Theatre.
For those still uninitiated to Hedwig’s story after an off-Broadway cult hit, movie musical and smash run on the Great White Way in 2014-2015, Atlanta is in for a mind-bending trip of gender confirmation, story telling and good old rock and roll. The Broadway run included actors in the lead including Neil Patrick Harris and Darren Criss.
In short, Hedwig is a thumping musical about a rock and roll band fronted by transgender East German singer, Hedwig Robinson. The show follows the band on a B-grade American tour chasing Hedwig’s ex, a sexy and uber-successful rock god who stole Hedwig’s fame – and heart. The production is based on the original show written by and starring Joh Cameron Mitchell. On tour, Euan Morton plays the title role.
Throughout the story, Hedwig is assisted, yet also annoyed, by her back-up singer, guitarist and husband, Yitzhak. Leading lady Hannah Corneau, who plays Yitzhak with heart and humor, sat down with Goliath Atlanta to shed light on touring with the blockbuster.
Corneau reflects on her experience with the tour and the long-term importance of Hedwig, especially during a volatile time for trans issues in our country.
What’s it like to tour behind such a phenomenal smash hit?
It has been one of the biggest honors of my life thus far. To be a part of the Hedwig legacy is a dream come true. To be able to tell this poignant story and spread these special messages is a responsibility that I feel so very lucky to have taken on.
Were you nervous stepping into such an iconic role?
They were certainly big shoes to fill, but I felt so inspired and lucky to be able to step into his shoes. What an opportunity for me as an actress, but more importantly a human. The piece is such an exciting one to be a part of.
What preparations did you undergo for the role?
Initially, I really had to focus on the physicality and vocal range of the role. To make this man believable, vulnerable and extremely dynamic, I had to dig deep within myself to formulate this character within my mind and body.
Why do you think people are drawn to the show?
People go to the theater in hopes of resonating with characters. Hedwig gives them that opportunity and experience. You see these rich characters and you go on their emotional journey that I think the audience finds is not so different than their own. Everyone has experienced love, loss, regret and self-discovery. That is being human and that is what Hedwig is all about.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
Self-exploration, love, understanding and acceptance is the key to life. It’s literally about life, legacy and love.
What are you most looking forward to about performing in Atlanta?
I performed at the Alliance Theater in 2014, and I love the spirit of Atlanta. Such warm people, a beautiful city and cultured minds. You’re going to eat it up!
Hedwig and the Angry Inch stages Tuesday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 5 at Fox Theatre. foxtheatre.org.