Hedwig back by popular demand

Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Hedwig addresses the audience. Photo courtesy The Big Event Photography.

With a level of skill and enthusiasm that has come to be expected of them, the group at Bozeman’s Equinox Theatre has created a wonderful rendition of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” John Cameron Mitchell’s musical, originally premiered in 1998, has been performed on hundreds of stages around the world. After reaching high levels of popularity in 2001, the stage musical was turned into a feature film starring Mitchell himself.

Last year, the Equinox presented “Hedwig” for the first time thanks to Erin Roberg, the theatre’s Artistic Director. Because of the show’s big success, Roberg decided to bring it back for another year.

“‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ is by far my favorite musical of all time,” said Roberg. “It’s not your typical play.”

Upon entering the theatre room audience members see a simple yet elegant stage setup similar to your standard black-box theatre style play. However, when the lights dim and the cast steps out the audience is introduced to a show that is anything but ordinary.

From the moment Hedwig, played masterfully by MSU film and media student Ben Sevilla, enters the stage, she captivates the audience with her sexual jokes and touching (with a lot of touching) story.

Hedwig tells the tale of her life as a young boy named Hansel, raised in East Germany.  She explains, through a series of rainbow carnage and Barbie-doll-crotch-filled stories, how she came to be the underrated female rock star she is today.

While Sevilla’s Hedwig is without a doubt the star of the show, she is joined onstage by a wonderful and odd conglomeration of dead-eyed rockers. Though most of these characters have no lines during the show, their presence accents Hedwig’s performance perfectly.

Though the story and music are fantastic in themselves, the show is elevated to a whole new level by the Equinox staff’s own interpretations of certain aspects of the show. During one particular song, “The origins of love,” drawings by one of the actress’ family members bring the song to life.

A less subtle influence on the show was Sevilla’s witty and seamless improv involving the audience. From dancing around (and occasionally on) other people to implying that the crowd was less than honorable, he made sure the audience was always on its toes.

The Equinox Theatre’s performers had large shoes to fill, but the cast and crew have created a play Mitchell would be proud of. “The Equinox always puts on a great show,” said theatre patron Travis Kidd. “This is a prime example of what [the Equinox staff] is capable of.”

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. until its closing night on Sept. 29. Tickets can be purchased online at equinoxtheatre.com or over the phone by calling (406) 587-0737.