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If you know what I’m talking about when I say “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” then you will be tickled to know that the Phoenix Rising Artists’ Collaborative has been rehearsing this show tirelessly and will be performing Fridays and Saturdays this month at Soul Invictus on Grand Ave. (!) If you are unfamiliar with the story, I’ll do my best to summarize the plot. Stay with me on this because a mere description doesn’t do this show justice, however it is fantastic, thoughtful, and moving and had me almost in tears the first time I saw it.
It’s a one-woman show starring Hedwig and her band The Angry Inch. Hedwig tells her story to the audience in the form of an extended monologue. We learn that she was born Hansel in East Berlin, underwent a sexchange operation that got botched, ends up in a trailer park in Kansas, and is touring the country with her band shadowing the much more successful rockstar Tommy Gnosis. Are you still with me? I know that sounds strange, but the show is a rock opera tour de force with roots in Plato’s “Symposium,” with themes of duality and wholeness, betrayal, determination, and is laced with wicked funny dark humor. (At one point Hedwig asks “how did a slip of a girly boy become the internationally ignored song stylist barely standing before you?”) The music is beautiful, a mix of 70s glam, pop and punk. My favorites song are “Origins of Love” and “Wig in a Box” performed live (of course) by Hedwig and the band.
Written by John Cameron Mitchell with music and lyrics by Steven Trask, the original off Broadway production ran in the late 90s and was made into a movie in 2001. It has become what some would call a cult classic with the devoted fans nicknamed “Hed Heads.” I’m thrilled that the live version is once again gracing a stage in Phoenix.
The Phoenix Rising Artists’ Collaborative is a small group of local artists and musicians who bring alternative performance art and music to Downtown. They perform at Soul Invictus (Grand and 11th Ave.) a space that they say has been “transformed into an artists’ collaborative under the secular and non-sectarian guidance of local visionaries.” Phoenix is known for having a healthy, organic local arts culture, and to me the Phoenix Rising Artists’ Collaborative is a shining example. The things I’ve seen from them are creative, original, edgy, highly entertaining and worth my time. I wouldn’t miss this show for anything.
If you’re a fan of philosophy and glam rock or a fan of great musicals, you’ll want to see “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” So put on some make up, turn on the eight track, and pull that wig down from the shelf and come see a great show.
(Ticket information and directions are here. Check out YouTube to see clips from the movie.)