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Unplugged: Savannah’s Bay Street Theatre offers punk-rock catharsis with ‘Hedwig’

  • Bay Street Theatre’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” stars Chad Darnell. (Photo by Adriana Iris Boatwright)
 

Unplugged: Savannah’s Bay Street Theatre offers punk-rock catharsis with ‘Hedwig’

17 Jan 2018

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which was written by John Cameron Mitchell with music by Stephen Trask, was first produced off-Broadway 20 years ago. The film version was released in 2001, and Bay Street Theatre has staged the compelling show three times, most recently in 2013.

But even if you’re as familiar with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” as I am, you will likely find the current BST production by turns shocking, hilarious, touching and cathartic.

Maybe it was because of current events and changing times, but I found that the themes related to power — political, sexual, cultural — resonate especially strongly today.

The strangely simple one unfolds as Hedwig performs powerful queer punk ballads and unreels stories in a dive bar as former lover Tommy Gnosis basks in sanitized pop glory at his packed concert down the street.

Chad Darnell’s Hedwig often projects confidence and power, but Darnell is at his best when revealing the character’s vulnerability, doubt and introspection. Under the direction of Valerie America Lavelle, Darnell takes advantage of the intimacy of the old show bar to draw us into Hedwig’s world, sometimes with little more than a glance or whisper.

Darnell is joined on staged by Cecilia Tan Arango, who plays Hedwig’s surly, marginalized and golden-voiced husband Yitzhak, and by four musicians — musical director Robert Cottile on piano, Chris Tillis on bass, Tom Hoffman on drums and George Moser on guitar.

Darnell and Arango both bring powerful voices to the show’s wonderful songs, and the entire musical is presented by BST in a tight 80 minutes with no intermission.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Hedwig, now’s your chance. And if you already know the punk diva pretty well, you might still find some surprises, at least in your own reactions.

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” continues with shows at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19-21 and 26-28 at the Bay Street Theatre on the second floor of Club One, 1 Jefferson St. Tickets for table seating are $25, and general admission tickets are $20.

Friday and Saturday shows are restricted to patrons 18 and older. The Sunday shows are open to ages 15 and up.

Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged (www.billdawers.com) and hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com). Email billdawers@comcast.net.

IF YOU GO

What: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 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

Info: clubone-online.com

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