Major Labels Bid to Record Hedwig Cast Album
Playbill Online, May 18 1998
By Robert Simonson
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is not your average musical as far as the major record labels are concerned. Whereas many stage shows are recorded by smaller companies which specialize in theatre music, the Off-Broadway hit is being courted by Dreamworks, Atlantic, MCA, and Capital.
Hedwig was written by its star, John Cameron Mitchell (book), and Stephen Trask (music and lyrics). Mitchell plays the title singer, an obscure and tortured German-American transsexual rock singer, who tells her darkly comic story while ostensibly performing a concert. The Angry Inch, her back-up band, is actually Trask's rock combo Cheater, a staple at such downtown New York clubs as CBGB's and Mercury Lounge. The musical has been playing to enthusiastic crowds at the Jane Street Theatre since Feb. 14.
Though no contract has been concluded, the original cast album will be released in fall, at the very earliest, said Hedwig spokesman Tom D'Ambrosio. Mitchell, who, along with Trask, won an OBIE for his work, will stay with the show through next February, possibly taking a few vacations during the summer.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
By David Lefkowitz
Now here's something you don't read every day: Coming to NYC's Jane Street Theatre will be a "rock `n' roll, glam-punk, drag biography musical." Written by Obie-Award winner John Cameron Mitchell and featuring songs by Stephen Trask of the alternative rock band, Cheater, Hedwig And The Angry Inch, begins previews Feb. 1 and opens Valentine's Day, Feb. 14.
That's almost exactly one year since the show played Off-Off-Broadway at the Westbeth Theatre on Bank Street. The unrelated Westside Theatre (current home of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) is co-producing the new mounting (with Alice's Enterprises) at a space in the Hotel Riverview Ballroom, newly dubbed "The Jane Street Theatre."
Here's the blurb exactly as it appeared in the show's press release back when the show played at the Westbeth: "John Cameron Mitchell is Hedwig, a Berlin cold war bride who is transplanted to a Kansas trailer park and then catapulted to infamy. In sequined neck brace and a dress of bubblewrap, Hedwig tells us -- in story and song -- how `some slip of a girlyboy from Communist East Berlin became the internationally ignored song stylist barely standing before you.'"
Miriam Shor co-stars in Hedwig, while Cheater, a group influenced by Captain Beefheart and Mott The Hoople, play Hedwig's back-up band, "The Angry Inch." Stephen Trask, Chris Weilding, Scott Bilbrey and Dave McKinley comprise Cheater.
Songs in Hedwig include "Tear Me Down," "Angry Inch," "Wig In A Box," "Wicked Little Town," and "The Long Grift." According to production spokesperson Bob Fennell (of the Publicity Office), the show ends with "Du Erleuchtest Meine Leben." That's a German translation (by Michael Feingold) from the English: "You Light Up My Life."
Peter Askin, who staged John Leguizamo's Mambo Mouth and Spic O-Rama, directs Hedwig, which has been called "part Ziggy Stardust concert and part Marlene Dietrich cabaret."
Sets for the musical are by James Youmans (Broadway's Swingin' On A Star), costumes are by Fabio Toblini, lighting is by Kevin Adams.
First developed at the downtown venues Squeezebox, Fez and the Public Theatre, Hedwig is referred to by Mitchell as "a play in the form of a rock gig." Mitchell's work in Broadway's The Secret Garden earned him a Drama Desk nomination, and he won an Obie for playing the young lead in Larry Kramer's The Destiny Of Me. Other shows include Hello Again, Missing Persons and Six Degrees Of Separation. Mitchell, a founding member of the fledgling company Drama Dept., adapted and directed their production of Tennessee Williams' Kingdom Of Earth.
For tickets ($35) and information on Hedwig And The Angry Inch at the Jane Street Theatre, 113 Jane St., N.Y., call (212) 239-6200.
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