Written by John Cameron Mitchell, with music and lyrics created by Stephen Trask, the musical premiered Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theater in 1998 and has been performed throughout the world in hundreds of stage productions since, including Boston, Los Angeles and London. The original production won a Village Voice Obie Award and the Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical (along with multiple awards for the hit film adaptation).
With those accolades, it sort of makes you feel old and out-of-it if you haven’t witnessed this groundbreaking, critically acclaimed smash. No worries: Sean Matthew Whiteford is outright excited to introduce Hedwig to local audiences at the Colony Café in Woodstock this weekend. Indeed, Whiteford plays the main character, a transsexual punk-rocker touring the US with her band. Following her ex-boyfriend/bandmate who stole her songs, Hedwig wigs out with great pathos and humor. Will she find her other half? Mitchell’s songs pluck the heartstrings while pulling the gag lines one after another. Irreverence is mixed with the soulful longing for love – something to which surely anyone can relate, if only anyone not usually accustomed to gender-bending characterizations can sit through the performance long enough to allow his/her heart and humor to be plucked and pulled.
Whiteford says that the play is faithful to the original Off-Broadway production, which is essentially a one-man show. “Hedwig portrays every character he’s ever come into contact with in his life. We’ve added our own little quirks and different touches to keep it fresh, and to give people some surprises. But I was surprised at how complex the show really is, how thought-provoking and mature it really is. [The character] is not a cartoon, but a real person. Hedwig is very real.”
Test your compassion meter when Hedwig plays for two nights only: Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. The onstage rock band features indie rock artist Frank McGinnis, plus Henry Staats and Matt Woolever, and the production is directed by Melissa Matthews, who also plays Yitzhak, the backup singer/husband. Tickets are $15 at the door, with no presale. For more information, call (845) 853-4176 or e-mail email@example.com.