Club One's Bay Street Theatre will bring to life a work of art that was far ahead of its time - and often misunderstood - for three weekends in January as they stage "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
Created by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask in the late '80s and showcased for the first time in 1994, the musical deals with contemporary issues such as unrequited love, toxic masculinity and the challenges faced by transgender people.
Local actor and casting agent Chad Darnell will star as Hedwig in this production. But first, he has to get his shoe situation straightened out.
"We decided last night that these stiletto boots are not going to work â€¦ I have almost mastered them, but the problem is there are a few ridges and grooves on the stage. The other night I was here by myself, rehearsing and I hit one of the grooves on the wooden floor. I began to fly, but I caught myself.
"They would have probably found me here two days later, and that's how I end up haunting Savannah, Georgia," he says.
Portraying Hedwig on stage is tough, stiletto boots or not. It is mentally and physically demanding, and Darnell began to train for the role as far back as June of last year. Hedwig was previously depicted in Savannah by local actor Christopher Blair in 2013.
"The role of Hedwig is a beast," Darnell says. "I have not been on stage doing a musical since 1992 but I grew up singing â€¦ I asked Christopher Blair for his blessing. I knew he had successfully played Hedwig locally, and it felt right to ask for his permission, and here we are."
Darnell says the role "could possibly be one of my biggest challenges."
"Vocally, I had to re-train myself for the demands that Hedwig incurs. Physically, I had to train. From the movement to the costumes, you have to be in decent shape to be Hedwig," he says.
"Every day I find new things and new meanings to the script and the music," Darnell adds. "One line lyrically will give meaning to a conversation later spoken. All this, months into it, and I am still finding connections between script and music."
This production of "Hedwig" also stars local actress and singer Cecilia Tran Arango, along with Director Valerie America Lavelle and Musical Director Robert Cottle. Arango portrays Yitzhak, Hedwig's husband and backup singer, which adds to the theme of blurred gender lines.
"I am in love with this role," Arango says. "â€¦ Getting rid of my femininity is a sacrifice that connects me more to the role. Then there is the fact that I just love the music from 'Hedwig.' To me it is timeless â€¦ It is one soundtrack that I can play in my house and no one complains about it.
"This time around we are doing the play the way it was originally shown and debuted. A bigger job for Chad and me, but I am excited and looking forward to the challenge."
Darnell adds that aside from addressing the important topic of genderqueer issues, the musical offers themes anyone can relate to: self-acceptance, unrequited love and rejection.
"The beauty of 'Hedwig' is how universal the language spoken really is â€¦ We all have that one person we become fixated with and no matter how hard we try or how much of Madonna's music you listen to, you still think about them.
"That is a connection and an emotion we all have experienced and it's truly universal."
IF YOU GO
What: "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12-14, 19-21, 26-28
Where: Bay Street Theatre at Club One, 1 Jefferson St.
Cost: $20-$25; ages 18 and older; Sunday shows open to ages 15 and older