Hedwig and the Angry Inch
A remount of our 2020 sold-out hit!
Winner of 4 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical
Brilliantly innovative, moving, and wickedly funny, this genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage. Hedwig, a German emigrant, is out to set the record straight about her life, her loves, and the operation that left her with that “angry inch.” Part rock concert, part cabaret, part stand-up comedy routine, this one-of-a-kind musical proves time and again that an indomitable spirit can’t ever be tied down.
“This glam rock concert musical delivers the goods — it’s a kickass testament to self-acceptance.”
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Plot Synopsis
Please note, this synopsis contains spoilers.
In an abandoned mall turned last-stop-before-the-grave performance space, the grungy and glam rock band The Angry Inch welcomes us to their gig and introduces their lead singer and frontwoman, Hedwig, a German immigrant refugee from formerly communist East Berlin. During an explosive opening number, Hedwig describes how the political chaos of the Berlin Wall era parallels the chaos of her own journey to self-discovery.
We come to realize that Hedwig plans to use her concert to tell us her life story — not only so we can get to know her, but more importantly, so that she can expose her ex-lover, the megastar pop rocker Tommy Gnosis, as a fraud who stole all of her songs and career opportunities. Soon, the concert begins to morph, at times feeling like a confessional booth, a cabaret, or even a stand-up comedy show. We are firmly in Hedwig’s grasp, in a world propelled only by her seductive storytelling, gut-punch sense of humor, and addictive tunes.
Growing up as a young boy in East Berlin, Hedwig (born Hansel) lived a meager life with his single mother after she threw his father out when he sexually abused Hansel. Due to the ascetic and paranoiac lifestyle of the East German regime, Hansel developed an active inner life and found solace in American rock music, especially the balladeering women of folk and the proto-punk and glam counter-culture bands of the 1970s. Hedwig reveals that even as a child, she felt an intangible emptiness inside, a sense that her “other half” was missing. She sings of how this feeling permeated her perspective and ushered in her search for love.
One day, while sunning himself on some rocks after being dismissed from university for radical lectures, Hansel meets an American G.I. named Luther and begins a romantic relationship with him. Luther initially thinks Hansel is a girl, and when it comes time for Luther to return to the States, he wants to marry Hansel and go together. But to do this, Luther and Hansel’s mother force him to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Hansel becomes Hedwig, but the operation on her genitals is botched. Hedwig is left with what she calls her “angry inch.”
Luther abandons Hedwig soon after they arrive in the USA. Alone in the rural Midwest, Hedwig works odd jobs and performs sex work to survive while spending her free time writing songs. She eventually lands a job as a nanny to the children of an Army commander, the eldest son of whom is Tommy. Hedwig and Tommy fall violently in love and begin creating music together; she expands his creative horizons and even gives him his stage name: Tommy Gnosis. But Tommy is a conservative Christian and will not accept Hedwig’s status as a social outsider or her gender journey. He rejects Hedwig and leaves her behind. A bit of time passes, and Tommy Gnosis rises meteorically as a pop idol by watering down the song catalog that Hedwig co-wrote. Finally fed up with being pushed aside and silenced, Hedwig puts together her band The Angry Inch and follows Tommy’s stadium tour around the country, using the tabloids to her advantage to try and take Tommy down and get what is rightfully hers.
But the night we’re present with her, Hedwig comes to a realization that the struggle may not yield the results she desires … and perhaps it’s just time to let go and start over on a new path, even if she’s alone forever. In the poignantly surreal final sequence, Hedwig assumes — and then sheds — Tommy’s stardom before bestowing her own mantle upon Yitzhak, her faithful bandmate and tempestuous lover. As Yitzhak transforms into a new version of Hedwig, Hedwig seems to make peace with her existence. The show ends when she is drawn into a bright light, ascending to a realm of her own, a private place of self-completion, where we may never follow her.
Britton Mauk and Dominique Fawn Hill, the scenic and costume designers of Hedwig, respectively, chat with Kamilah Bush, PCS’s literary manager, about their approaches to design and this bold take on Hedwig.
Calling all readers! Multnomah County Library put together a reading list inspired by our production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
We invited local comic artists to a performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch to sketch their impressions of the show. Here's what they created!
By Benjamin Fainstein, former PCS Literary Manager
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Text by John Cameron Mitchell
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Trask
Delphon “DJ” Curtis Jr.*
Tyler Andrew Jones*
Understudy Hedwig & Yitzhak
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Pierre Carbuccia Abbott
Mar Del Castillo
Musicians performing are represented by the American Federation of Musicians, Local 99, AFL-CIO.
Mar Del Castillo
Dominique Fawn Hill
Associate Sound Designer
Assistant Stage Manager
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Logan M. Ridenour-Starnes
Assistant Wig Artisan
Light Board Operator & Programmer
Sound Board Operator
Darian Anthony Patrick
Meet the Cast & Creative Team
DJ is beyond grateful to return to Portland Center Stage for this moving production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He graduated from William Peace University with a B.F.A. in musical theater. DJ has performed in productions across the country, including several occasions with North Carolina Symphony through the Manning Chamber Music Series. Favorite credits include: David Lee’s adaptation of Lerner and Lowe’s Camelot with The Old Creamery Theatre Company and Great Plains Theatre, Ruined at Burning Coal Theatre Company and, most recently, Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show at Four Corners Musical Theatre Company. Local credits: A Christmas Carol and Crowns at Portland Playhouse, and Mlima's Tale with Profile Theatre.
Most recently seen in Barbecue at Portland Playhouse, Ithica is a PAMTA-winning actor whose vast Portland resume includes: Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Voice Six/Mrs. Alexander in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Portland Center Stage), Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar (StreetScenes), Wanda in Crowns (Portland Playhouse), Othello in Othello (Post5 Theatre), Frances in Melancholy Play (Third Rail Repertory Theatre), and Ursula in Bon Temps Rouler at the Shakespeare Café (Bremer Shakespeare Company, Germany). Ithica’s TV appearances include Grimm (NBC), The Librarians (TNT), The Benefits of Gusbandry (web series), and Life After First Failure (CW Seed). Film credits include Waterworld, the critically acclaimed The Last Champion, and Losing Addison.
Tyler is thrilled to be joining the company of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as it marks his Portland Center Stage debut! He was most recently seen as Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol at Portland Playhouse, Jack in Into the Woods at Broadway Rose Theatre Company, Nurse Ackerman in Stop and Go (2021 SXSW Film Festival), and as Matt in Artists Repertory Theatre’s RA Project production of The Fantasticks, which toured Egypt as part of the CIFCET Festival. As a playwright, his play The Marks You Leave, produced in part with Ronnie Lacroute, premiered at the 20th Annual Fringe Festival. Special thanks to Chip and the entire Hedwig company. Tyler is a proud member of AEA and The Dramatist Guild of America. IG: @t.andrew.jones
Mar is so excited to be returning to Portland Center Stage for another run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, song-writer, and producer from Lima, Peru, Mar has been writing and performing music for more than 15 years. They moved to Portland in 2007, by way of Sarasota, Florida, to focus on creative endeavors in both music and visual arts, and they have since sung and played guitar in various local projects, and written and produced genre-spanning music for indie video games. Mar is currently recording a solo EP in her home studio to be released this year.
Born and raised in Sacramento, Justin has been pursuing the craft of drumming for 16 years. Starting at 10 years old, he’s devoted copious amounts of time to developing his passion and skillset with the instrument. Hailing from a musical family, Justin was surrounded by joyful sounds ranging from a gospel environment to the local theater and the makeshift studio in his father’s apartment. At 18, Justin got his first big show performing with the Sacramento Kings Drum Line. Soon after, he began dabbling in the local pop-punk and metalcore scenes. Needing a change of pace, Justin made the move to Oregon in the summer of 2017. Since then, he’s been scurrying about the city sitting in at jam and jazz sessions, he recorded a jazz record in New York, and he performs with country acts, all while being a cat father.
Pierre is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and producer from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Raised on bolero, merengue, bachata, Latin pop, and reggaetón, Pierre eventually delved into genres like rock, ambient, R&B, jazz, and more. Since 2015, Pierre has focused on creating a sonic world under juracán. The full-lengths Niño and Jarineo are guitar-driven stories full of dreamy ambiance. The most dramatic shift in Pierre’s songwriting is defined by a more confident singing approach, lavish voice layering, and the blending of multiple styles. You Said, Lecciones, his most recent single, is an example of that. Pierre's most recent project, as a co-producer, is called Caribe Norwé. Their debut single, Drive With Me, has been on rotation on two Dominican radio stations since November 2021.
S. Jorden is a Portland-based musician and songwriter, whose musical experience spans more than seven years. They graduated from CU Denver with a B.A.S. in songwriting, and have been featured on Portland Radio Project’s new local music for their solo project Shanea. They have an affinity for creating and performing new and exciting music, and they are excited to do that for the first time with Portland Center Stage.
John’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, written with Stephen Trask, made its debut on the stage of SqueezeBox, a New York City rock 'n' roll drag bar. The show then premiered Off-Broadway, receiving rave reviews. John was awarded an Obie Award, a New York Magazine Award, a Drama League Award, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. John’s film adaptation of Hedwig and the Angry Inch received directing and acting awards at festivals such as Sundance (Audience Award, Best Director), Berlin, Deauville, Seattle International, San Francisco International, and San Francisco’s Lesbian & Gay. The film was also honored by the National Board of Review, The L.A. Film Critics Association, Premiere Magazine, and the Golden Globes (nomination for Best Actor, Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy). He received a Drama Desk Award nomination for his role of Dickon in the Broadway production of The Secret Garden. Off-Broadway, Mitchell received an Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination for his role of Larry Kramer in The Destiny of Me. In Lincoln Center’s Hello Again, Mitchell received a Drama Desk nomination. He also appeared in the original Broadway production of Six Degrees of Separation and as Huck Finn in the Broadway production of Big River. Mitchell adapted and directed Tennessee Williams’ Kingdom Of Earth for New York’s Drama Dept. Theatre Company, of which he is a founding member.
Stephen is the author of the music and lyrics for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as well as the original music director. He was the original leader of the notorious SqueezeBox house band, performing with Debbie Harry, Lene Lovitch, Hole, Green Day, Joey Ramone, as well as New York's most popular drag queens. For five years, Stephen performed with his band Cheater, who originated The Angry Inch band Off-Broadway and performed on the original cast recording. From 1993-1998, Stephen danced with and accompanied The Corner Store Dance Company. He has scored numerous dance pieces and movies. During Hedwig’s reign at the Jane Street Theatre, Stephen received an Obie Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical, a 1998 New York Magazine Award, Drama Desk nominations for Outstanding Music, Outstanding Lyrics, and Outstanding New Musical, a Grammy nomination for Best Cast Album, and two GLAMA Awards: Best Cast Album and Best Score for Film or Stage. He was the producer for the album by rock band Nancy Boy, as well as for the score and soundtrack album for the film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He also composed the music for the New York Theatre Workshop production of Cavedweller, adapted from Dorothy Allison’s novel, and works regularly in the film world, where he supplied the original score for Camp, The Station Agent, and The West Memphis Three.
Chip is a director and producer, currently in the role of associate artistic director at Portland Center Stage. They were previously the artistic associate/resident director at KCRep. Directing: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the world premiere of Redwood (Portland Center Stage); Journeys to Justice (Portland Opera); School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, Welcome to Fear City, Sex with Strangers, A Raisin in the Sun (KCRep); the world premiere of Becoming Martin by Kevin Willmott (The Coterie Theatre); dwb: driving while black (Lawrence Arts Center, Baruch Performing Arts Center); 4:48 Psychosis (The Buffalo Room). Chip has developed work with playwrights including Kevin Wilmott, Kara Lee Corthron, Brittany K. Allen, Catherine Trieschmann, Darren Canady, Andrew Rosendorf, Susan Kander & Roberta Gumbel, Michelle T. Johnson, and Michael Finke. They have developed work at The William Inge Theatre Festival, NYU’s New Plays for Young Audiences, La Jolla Playhouse’s DNA Series, Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival, The Midwest Dramatists Center, KCRep’s OriginKC New Works Festival, The Living Room Theatre, and Musical Theatre Heritage. Education: NYU, Tisch School of the Arts.
Ash is an active composer, arranger, songwriter, and music director for choir and theater. Their theatrical credits include productions with Portland Actors Ensemble (for which they won the Outdoor Shakespeare Festival Award in 2012 for Best Sound Design of Twelfth Night), Milagro (for which they won a Drammy Award in 2015 for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music for ¡O Romeo!), Corrib Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, and most recently, Portland Center Stage (Macbeth and Hedwig and the Angry Inch). Ash serves as artistic director to Transpose PDX, which is a non-profit choral arts organization serving the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community. musicbyash.com
Britton is a Pittsburgh-based scenic designer. He’s designed three world premieres — Untitled and The Burdens at City Theatre, and Old Man and the Sea at Pittsburgh Playhouse. Some of his other designs from these venues include The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey at City Theatre, and Good Grief and Wig Out! at Pittsburgh Playhouse. Britton has designed for Portland Center Stage (Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the upcoming Rent) in Portland, OR; Long Wharf Theatre (I Am My Own Wife) in New Haven, CT; Cardinal Stage (Fun Home) in Bloomington, IN; and Mixed Blood (Mermaid Hour Remixed) in Minneapolis, MN. Closer to home, he has designed for Pittsburgh Public Theater, Front Porch Theatricals, CLO Cabaret, Prime Stage, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, and Quantum. He is a member of the USITT IDEAs Committee and is the coordinator for the USITT Gateway Program.
Dominique’s design credits include: Journeys to Justice at Portland Opera, Mlima’s Tale at Profile Theatre, Stew at SOHO Rep, Grow Up (film), Where the Mountain Meets the Sea at Actors Theatre Company, One Night in Miami at City Theatre Company, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play at KCRep, 125th & FREEdom at The National Black Theatre, and Pipeline at City Theatre Company. Her upcoming shows include White Noise at Studio Theatre, Mei Ann & Troy Project at Harvard University, Grace at The Ford's Theatre, Tambo & Bones at Playwrights Horizons, and Fat Ham at the Public Theater. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego. dominiquefhill.com
Avi is delighted to return to Portland Center Stage this season! They are currently pursuing their M.F.A. in lighting design at Northwestern University in Chicago. Recent design credits include Cry It Out at Northwestern University, Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Portland Center Stage, Safe Space at Single Carrot Theatre, and DNA at Oregon Children's Theatre. Recent assistant credits include The Magic Flute and To the World at The Glimmerglass Festival. They send love and thanks to their partner, Sarah, and their cats, Theo and Buffy.
Em is a proud member of IATSE Local 28 here in Portland, OR. He spends his time touring North America, mixing musicals, and, occasionally, designing them. Though he could not be in residence this year, he is grateful to be a member of the Hedwig and the Angry Inch family.
Danny is a Midwestern artist who is passionate about collaborative storytelling. They’re excited to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch come back to life here in Portland. She would like to thank his community of supporters, without which they would not be here today to celebrate this wonderful piece of art. They hope you enjoy the show and look forward to seeing you all upstairs in the summer for Rent!
Jessica is very excited to be back at Portland Center Stage. She is excited to add Hedwig and the Angry Inch to her list of wig shows, which includes Fun Home, The Color Purple, and Lady Day. She has her B.A. in costume design from the University of Oregon, where she discovered her love for the art of wig making and design. She is also lucky enough to use her hair skills to work in the local TV and film industry.
Rory is a Portland-based sound and video designer and engineer, working in live performance, broadcast, and art installations. A graduate of Willamette University with a degree in theater design, his most recent work has been with Portland Playhouse, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, Portland Institute for the Contemporary Arts, and CoHo Productions. He also works as the IATSE head audio and video engineer of Portland State University’s Lincoln Performance Hall.
Karl has been involved in theater in various capacities for the last 25 years. Previous dialect work includes Orlando, Blue Door, Antigone Project, 2.5 Minute Ride, and Twilight: Los Angeles with Profile Theatre; A Christmas Carol and The Language Archive with Portland Playhouse; Hen Night Epiphany, Belfast Girls, Lifeboat, Quietly, Hurl, How To Keep An Alien, and Eclipsed with Corrib Theatre; Berlin Diaries and The Chinese Lady at Artists Repertory Theatre; as well as A Christmas Memory and Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley with Portland Center Stage. He received his M.F.A. in acting from the National Theater Conservatory in Denver.
Janine is thrilled to return for her sixth season at Portland Center Stage. She has been a stage manager and production manager in theater for more than 20 years on Broadway, Off-Broadway, regionally, and on tour. She's had many favorite productions in that time, but some of her favorites include Frida … A Self Portrait, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Macbeth, A Christmas Memory/Winter Song, Wild & Reckless (all at Portland Center Stage); Sweeney Todd (Portland Opera); The Lion King (Broadway); The Graduate (starring Morgan Fairchild), Cats, The Vagina Monologues, Jekyll & Hyde, and Show Boat (all on tour); The Daily Show with Jon Stewart “Democalypse 2012 Republican National Convention.” Proud NYU graduate and AEA member.
Dana is so excited to be back at Portland Center Stage. Her previous credits at PCS are In the Heights, Redwood, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (production assistant), and The Bells That Still Can Ring (stage manager). Dana graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in theater. While at OSU, Dana was the stage manager on 7 Ways to Say I Love You, Beyond All Recognition, Execution of Justice, Michael Von Siebenburg Melts Through the Floorboards, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Dana sends all of her love to her family, both blood and found.
Reviews of our 2022 Remount!
What Critics Are Saying
"A strong reminder of how good theater can be and why we missed it so much." - Portland Mercury
"Delphon "DJ" Curtis Jr. once again puts his indelible mark on this show and makes it his own!" - Judy Nedry
"The set design was fantastic! Beautifully built and designed. Similarly, the lighting really brought a new dimension to the show. The second act was so heartbreaking and so wonderfully acted." - Audience Rave
"Second time seeing it at PCS and love it every time!" - Audience Rave
"I love the show, and you could not have found two better performers to play off of each other. I laughed and I wept - the sign of a perfect show." - Audience Rave
"Powerful performance!" - Audience Rave
"It was wonderful. The lead playing Hedwig was magnificent - the talent and energy was magnetic. The set was inspiring and creative and the musicians were excellent." - Audience Rave
"Amazing talent and great production! We had a blast." - Audience Rave
"This was my first time seeing Hedwig and I was not disappointed! I loved the intimate atmosphere and of the performance. I was deeply moved by the play - so timely in so many ways. Everyone was outstanding - SO SO impressed by all the actors and musicians. I haven’t stopped thinking about all the layers of meaning and the importance of resilience, courage and freedom to be who you are. This play has expanded my understanding and compassion for the stories we all carry - that are too often left untold. It will live in me for awhile. I have grown as a result of seeing this performance. Thank you." - Audience Rave
"Seen at least 3 different Hedwigs around country. This is our favorite by far." - Audience Rave
Reviews of Our 2019-2020 Production
"A guitar-churning, face-melting, inventive new take on the genderqueer rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It’s cleverly conceived, masterfully designed and mightily sung ... the show still speaks, shouts and sings to the struggles of anyone coping with outsider-ism and self-identity." - The Oregonian
"Portland Center Stage's current production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch is my third experience of this iconic show. And this production is the one that captured my imagination and moved me at the heart level. It's the one that motivated me to jump to my feet at the end, and the one I can most enthusiastically recommend." - The Portland Observer
"The show totally rocks! And is hilarious and is raunchy and is complex and is a wonderfully immersive experience in the Armory's intimate Ellyn Bye Studio ... You're immersed in not only the drama of the stage play but the joy inherent in a rock show." - Ut Omnia Bene
"Energized, outrageous, and more than a little crazy ... wildly melodramatic, with pounding rock music and Beyoncé-inspired costumes and wigs. It’s a pop-culture/cult happening that Portland-area Hedwig aficionados will need to see again. And again." - Judy Nedry
"This glam rock concert musical delivers the goods -- it's a kickass testament to self-acceptance and a reminder that the world is a lot less binary than we try to make it." - BroadwayWorld
"Revolutionary, astonishing, and very worthy of comparison to Beyoncé. It's certainly a tall order, but Curtis' singing style has a powerhouse soulful approach, which brings the vision of a Hedwig/Beyoncé hybrid out of our dreams and into the Ellyn Bye." - The Mercury
"I had been waiting over 20 years to see this live and it blew me away!"
"Loved Loved Loved!!!"
"I love the movie. I love the off Broadway version. And now I love the Portland Armory version!! DJ and Ithaca are fantastic!!"
"We left changed, invigorated, and moved to tears. You owe it to your soul to see [Delphon "DJ" Curtis Jr. and Ithica Tell] and this kickass band absolutely blow the roof off of The Armory ... from the basement."
"Hedwig was gorgeous beyond my dreams and the band generous. These are the reminders of why art is important."
Top of page: Photo by Owen Carey
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