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THEATER REVIEW Hedwig and the Angry Inch
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2017-03-15

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Playwright: John Cameron Mitchell . At: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. Tickets: 800-775-200; BroadwayInChicago.com; $38-$108 . Runs through: March 19

Many of the gay community in Chicago came out in support for opening night on March 8 for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The fictional rock musical is helmed by East German singer Hedwig Robinson/Hansel Schmidt. The band and her private parts are both called The Angry Inch after a botched gender-change surgery.

The show first opened off-Broadway in 1998 and has traveled to cities in many small venues, building a cult fan base over the years. The show has starred many celebrities, including Neil Patrick Harris, Darren Criss and Taye Diggs. On this current tour, Euan Morton ( Taboo ) plays the title role and, at times, still resembles Boy George.

The trick is to make this intimate show translate in such a massive space as the Oriental Theatre. Thanks to some clever jokes and projected visuals, it usually does.

Morton got to improv in what is basically a conversation with the audience with songs in between. His accent was a bit hard to understand at times, but smoothed out later in the evening.

Morton had his own take on the unforgettable character. There were adult jokes inserted about green cards, sucking blow off a MacBook Pro, and the gender-neutral bathroom of The Violet Hour in Wicker Park. Some of the humor will not be for everyone, but that is part of the unpredictable fun of the live performance.

After the show, Morton mentioned that the audience member he picked out did not appreciate having his reading glasses licked.

It is when Morton sang that he truly connected with the crowd. For example, for "Wicked Little Town," Morton's voice hit all the right notes. He seems tailor-made for this project and strips down to show vulnerability by the end.

The once-small role of Yitzhak ( Hedwig's husband ) has been beefed up ( even resulting in a Tony win ). Hannah Corneau did a nice job with it, and had a Whitney Houston moment toward the end of the show. The young backing band was also stellar.

The audience was treated to some unforgettable moments that even more of the community should not miss seeing live. With possible changes and a different audience each night for Morton to play with, go more than once—and don't miss an inch.


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