It’s hard to continuously sing praises for the master of theatre Nick A. Olivero. I am fearful one day someone will get wind of his talents and steal him from the Bay Area. But I shouldn’t be selfish.
With that being said, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which opened June 27 and plays through July 8 at San Francisco’s Boxcar Theatre, is a masterful, fresh and brilliant retelling of the off-Broadway musical about a German songstress who comes to the US after a botched sex change operation.
Off-Broadway “Hedwig” was pretty much a two person show, telling Hedwig’s story through monologues and song. Olivero has cast 12 performers to play the role of Hedwig, representing the fragments of the character. We all have many sides and this show turns multiple personalities into a brilliant ensemble.
Whether it’s a comedic or chanteuse Hedwig, the performers are as diverse as the aspects of the character they play. It’s amazing the incomparable talent brought to the intimate Boxcar, which too has done its own transformation.
Last time I was at the Boxcar, it looked like a flower shop for the great production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” which was so original that the licensing company ceased production of the show as it was too different from the original material. So much for allowing creativity to blossom.
Besides the brilliance Olivero has sown into every fiber of the show (almost literally as he also did the set design), the show succeeds due to its first class cast.
Not to take away from any one actor, but there are some Hedwigs worth pointing out.
Nikki Arias exudes comic timing. She really makes the part her own every time she’s on stage. Not an easy task when she’s part of such a great ensemble. She is equally matched in timing by the very charming and sexy Dan Clegg, whose drool humor doesn’t go unnoticed.
While Arias and Clegg own the acting honors, Lauren Spencer and Michelle Ianiro are among the best vocalists in the show, adding a layer of richness and power to the great songs by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask.
But there are two stand outs with their acting abilities and singing chops. Jason Brock with his great delivery of lines is impeccable and he really can belt out songs….he’d be able to reach the rear balcony of any theatre with his amazing instrument and it has more of an impact at the small Boxcar.
Brionne Davis also added a richness to the role with some of Hedwig’s most tender moments. Whether in song or scene, he can melt your heart…and he looks good doing it too.
Hedwig’s come and go but Anna Ishida is always by all 12 Hedwig’s side as Yitzhak. She is given her moments to shine as well as having the tough part of taking on one of the most popular songs of all time, and does it justice.
The original “Hedwig” songs too are worth going just to hear the “concert.” Part pop, part rock these songs do more than help advance the plot. They stick with you – whether in meaning or melody, the songs can stand alone.
Do not miss “Hedwig” and don’t wait as it’s only around until July 8. Since the setting is a bar, they actually have a bar so come enjoy beer, wine and whiskey at nominal costs.
Get your inexpensive $25 ticket at www.boxcartheatre.org.