SAN FRANCISCO WELCOMES BACK HEDWIG TO HER OLD HOME THE VICTORIA THEATRE, THE HEELS AND WIGS ARE BLIS
'HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH', TAKES OVER RAY OF LIGHT THEATRE, AND THIS WICKED LITTLE TOWN STILL ROCKS
I am excited for the return of this groundbreaking Tony Award, Obie-winning Off-Broadway smash back at the Victoria. As many other critics are sharing; we first met HEDWIG back in 2002 here at the Mission street Stage. RAY OF LIGHT THEATRE reboots HEDWIG'S final tour and the classic (haunted) Victoria Mission district theatre is always the perfect home for her and the Angry Inch Band. With a terrific book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask this production is a knockout blast. The dynamic Coleyon Schmitto plays Hedwig Schmidt and Maya Michal Sherer plays her stage manager and assistant Yitzhak. Directed by SF Oasis/Thrillpeddles Sailor Galaviz, and ROLT Artistic director Jason Hoover they have created a visual triumph.
The award winning lighting designer Joe D’Emilio takes this show to another level with his lighting that becomes one of the main characters in this 90 min rock show.
Directors Galaviz and Hoover keeps all the glam, hairspray and its raunchy one liners “When it comes to huge openings, a lot of people think of me”. Schmitto steps into the heels previously worn by Tony winner Neil Patrick Harris, Michael C. Hall, Taye Diggs and of course writer director John Mitchell Cameron who originated the role. Mitchell and Trask’s superb rock musical won four Tony Awards its first season on Broadway.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH tells the story of "internationally ignored song stylist" Hedwig, a jaded East German rock 'n' roll goddess who also happens to be the victim of a botched sex-change operation, which has left her with just "an angry inch." This unexpectedly hilarious story is dazzlingly performed by Hedwig fromely Hansel. Set in first person a rock gig/one wo/men routine backed by the hard-rocking band "The Angry Inch”. The band features the sharp David Walker on Drums, Diogo Zavadzki on an angry Guitar, Lysol Tony – Romeo on Bass, and music director Steven Bolinger on Keyboard. The musicians move from their background roles to riff with Hedwig and Yitzhak.
The powerhouse on stage band fills the Victoria venue as the “Angry Inch” introduces Hedwig who enters as the backlight crowns her big hair and heels. “How did some slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin become the internationally ignored song stylist barely standing before you?” says the emotional Hedwig as he blasts into “Tear Me Down” one of the more powerful songs that open the show. Using songs and monologues, Hedwig tells her story to the sold out crowd. Her life began in the former East Berlin where as Hansel he lives with his/her mom. “The Origin of Love” explores the limitations of the body and opens her story as Hedwig describes her life's search for love and her other half.
Hedwig meets Luther, an American GI who promises to take the young Hansel to the States on the condition that he switch his sex. After the mishap operation, described in the over the top head banging punk song “Angry Inch”. “Six inches forward and five inches back, I got an angry inch”. Luther abandons newly named Hedwig in a Kansas trailer park where she turns to music and her wigs told in the hit sing along song “Wig in a Box”. Musical stage directors Alex Rodriguez and Angel Adedokun did not need to project the lyrics for the weekend sold out crowd to sing along with their hero the fans know when to join the song. Rodriguez and Adedokun used the extension stages that beam out to the Victoria orchestra seating that bring Hedwig to your seat in the clever number “Sugar Daddy” that is always a treat for a silver daddy in the crowd. “I’ve got a sweet tooth” as she humps a darling audience member who is all smiles.
Hedwig develops a songwriting partnership with a teenage Christian Twink named Tommy Gnosis who she falls for. It becomes another betrayal, but our Heroine is a survivor. Tommy ends up stealing her songs, and achieves rock star fame. Hedwig demands redress and stalks Tommy's world tour, performing in many dives that are located next door to his stadiums. As Hedwig plays to his adoring fans at the Victoria, Tommy is down the street at AT&T Giants stadium. Yitzhak likes to annoy his boss and runs upstage to open the stage door, the lights and sound from Tommy’s much bigger show rush in to overwhelm Hedwig. It is a great touch to the subtext to Hedwig's constant heart breaks. “Wicked Little Town” and “Hedwig’s Lament” explore his downfalls - both ballads show Schmitto’s annexed and passion as Hedwig.
“The Long Grifft” shows off Schmitto’s voice and his passion for this role. Hedwig’s powerhouse reprise of “Wicked” in a strip down version as he transforms to the boy Tommy Gnosis. He is naked of any false values, costumes and wigs are gone, her “Origin” is complete as she unmasks her image. The lights and overpowering, punk rock vibe is sharp, the bang-up glam costumes sparkle by Maggie Whitaker and Chanterelle Grover. The hair spray cans of Amy Bobeda, Beck Motorlodge created the winning wigs. Stage Managers Lori Fowler and Connie Carranza have a scattered set to cover, as one stage is placed in the Victoria Orchestra seats. The set designed by the creative Peet Cocke also included side stages that extend onto the crowd. The main on stage set is simple and dusty that is perfect for the on stage rockers. The artful animations/projections created live by Maya Michal Sherer steal the show with detail and her ease with a grease pen.
The highlight of this performance is not Hedwig, but the amazing Sherer as Yitzhak, the former drag queen steals this act and has a show stopping closing performance. Sherer runs up from the cheering crowd dressed in a full gown and sparkling with charm and is mesmerizing. Her passionate powerhouse performance of “Midnight Radio” brought the crowd to tears and cheers. It's a rocking ride, funny, touching and ultimately inspiring to anyone who has felt life gave them an inch when they deserved a mile.The anthem that will bring you to tears is one of the reasons you can't miss this Hedwig and Yitzhak who is just as much a star as her boss. Next up at Ray of Light Theatre is their annual Halloween party THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW that opens October 25th. But in the meantime let both Coleyon Schmitto and Maya Michal Sherer inspire you to wear a wig this fall, and go find your best heels and don’t miss this riveting production.
Ray of Light Theatre Presents
THE ANGRY INCH’
Book by John Cameron Mitchell
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask,
Directed by Sailor Galaviz
& Jason Hoover
Coleton Schmitto (Hedwig), Maya Michal Sherer (Yitzhak)
David Walker (Drums) Diogo Zavadzki (Guitar) Lysol Tony – Romeo (Bass)
And Steven Bolinger (Keys/Guitar)
Must close Oct 6th
2961 16th Street between Mission and Capp
90 minutes, no intermission
Photo’s by Alexander Belmont
Coleton Schmitto (Hedwig)
Maya Michal Sherer (Yitzhak)
David Walker (Drums)
Diogo Zavadzki (Guitar)
Lysol Tony – Romeo (Bass)
Steven Bolinger (Keys/Guitar)
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask
Book by John Cameron Mitchell
Directed by Sailor Galaviz & Jason Hoover
Music Direction by Steven Bolinger
Musical Staging by Alex Rodriguez
Set Design by Peet Cocke
Lighting Design by Joe D’Emilio