A 15th-anniversary celebration of the queer cult classic “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is coming to this year’s MELT Festival for one night only.
“Hedwig” was written by John Cameron Mitchell and debuted on Broadway in 1998. Both the stage musical and the 2001 film adaptation tell the remarkable story of a genderqueer singer who leaves East Berlin in the 1980s and finds redemption in punk and glam rock music.
Director and producer James Lees said the new show “HEDWIG 15” is about five years in the making.
“I’ve seen the film a zillion times, I saw the 2007 stage production in Australia. It’s in my top five films of all time. I’m a groupie,” he said.
“At the heart of Hedwig, and there is a great big beating human heart in the story, it’s all about individualism, strength and respect – self-respect and standing up for yourself and who you are.
“If you’re a transgender glam-rock eastern bloc rock and roll star from 1980’s Berlin then that’s what you are and you make that amazing. That’s at the heart of Hedwig and that’s such a fantastic message.”
Completely unapologetic individualism
For HEDWIG 15, the 2001 film will be shown on the big screen, followed immediately by a live performance of the Hedwig soundtrack featuring a vocal lineup of local stars: Sandro Colarelli, Josh Daveta, James Halloran, Bertie Page and Lucinda Shaw.
Joining them will be band led by the show’s producer James Lees with Shiv Zimmermann, John Meyer, Kevin Haigh and Parmis Rose.
James said the format of the new show isn’t a performance or tribute to the original musical, but a concert celebration of its spirit that they’re capturing in the tagline #WeAreAllHedwig.
“I’ve got a fascination and respect for anyone who has this completely unapologetic individualism, it’s just a wonderful thing. That’s in ‘Hedwig’ really strongly,” he said.
“You might not be a 1980s glam rock star, but this person is, this is how they’re presenting themselves. It can make people think about who their inner Hedwig is.”
After the screening of the Hedwig film, there’ll be a stage invasion, and the theatre will turn into the concert, James said.
“There’ll be bars in the theatre and cabaret tables. You can come and go as you want. It’s a party atmosphere,” he explained.
“Anybody who’s come along to see our previous shows ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Transformer’ will recognise the format.
“We have this great band, and a group of singers who all take turns doing lead vocals and then take turns doing backing vocals.”
The 2017 Melt Festival begins on Wednesday, January 25 at the Brisbane Powerhouse, premiering five new productions and bringing acclaimed interstate and international events to town. HEDWIG 15 is on for one night only at the Powerhouse on Saturday, January 28. For tickets and the full MELT lineup, visit the Powerhouse website.
(Group photo by Joel Devereaux)