Jeremy Seghers invited me to sketch the dress rehearsal for Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Abbey. I was excited because Joshua Eads-Brown who plays Hedwig had agreed to let me sketch as he put on his make up. When I entered the Abbey, a rock band was warming up on stage. I didn't know where the dressing room was but, I assumed it had to be back stage. When I tentatively peaked around the back curtain, I practically ran into Joshua who was wearing a knit cap over his hair and not much else. His whole body seemed to be covered with a white dust. The stage manager took me back to the dressing room.
Janine Klein who plays Yitzhak was working on getting her hair tied up. She was dressed as a man. The dressing room was cramped. I stood right behind Janine as I sketched Joshua's metamorphosis from a man to a woman. He had a bright pink zebra patterned makeup case and open pans of color were scattered on the counter before him. The face makeup was applied thickly. He darkened under his jaw line and boldly accentuated his cheeks with Alizarin Crimson. He put crimson and blue around his eyes then bright red lips outlined in black. His lips and eyes sparkled. The fingers of white gloves draped over the counter's edge. Janine was getting into a leather jacket and Joshua delicately used an eyeliner brush to give her a mustache and goatee. She became handsome and rugged while he became gorgeous. Large fake eyelashes, the wig and a red white and blue gown finished the transformation. She slipped on the star shaped sun glasses and went on stage.
The dress rehearsal was delayed because a guitar player hadn't arrived yet. I used the time to block in a second sketch. Hedwig came out wearing a large red white and blue cape. He raised his arms and on the inside of the cape, the words, "Yankee Go Home", "With Me!" was emblazoned.
The show is staged as Hedwig's musical act in which he tells his life's story. He was born in the divided city of East Berlin. A U.S. Soldier falls in love with Hedwig. To get out of East Berlin, a sex change was needed. As he put it, "You must give up part of yourself for love." The operation is botched leaving an "Angry Inch." The soldier leaves Hedwig after a year for a man. Recovering from separation she form a rock band called, "The Angry Inch". She meets Tommy Speck and they write music together. Tommy never accepted Hedwig and he leaves her taking all the songs becoming a very successful pop star.
Yitzhak was a cross dresser. Hedwig insisted he must never again wear woman's clothes if they were to be together. He would have to give up that part of himself. All her life Hedwig searched for her other half. She couldn't find anyone who could make her whole. The revelation is that she needed to accept herself. Once she did that she was whole again. We can't fall back on others to complete ourselves. In the final scene Yitzak came out on stage dressed in a gorgeous black gown with a slit reveling her left leg. She was resplendent and whole. The audience went wild.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is being performed at the Abbey through January 23rd. Check the website for dates and times. This musical will blow your socks off!