Hedwig’s gonna put on some makeup, turn on the tape deck, and put the wig back on his head this season in the person of multi-Emmy winner Neil Patrick Harris, a.k.a. Greatest Tony Host Ever. Mr. Harris will be returning to Broadway in the first-ever Main Stem production of the already-classic rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The show centers on Hedwig, self-described “internationally ignored song stylist” who struggles with identity after a botched sex-change operation and rages against a former lover who’s used Hedwig’s music to craft a hugely successful career. (The production will shrewdly use Times Square – only a block away from Hedwig’s current Broadway locale – as a backdrop for said lover’s rocketing success before large crowds.)
Since the show’s Off Broadway debut in 1998, which cemented the arrivals of star John Cameron Mitchell (Girls) and composer Stephen Trask (who later collaborated on the acclaimed 2001 film version), Hedwig has been the ultimate emo go-to, filling the void left by such benchmark 1970s alt-classics as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The show even inspired a documentary and a (rather excellent) tribute album, which included such artists as Cyndi Lauper, Ben Folds, and Rufus Wainwright providing unique takes on the show’s score.
In the exclusive video below, watch the How I Met Your Mother star expound on the rigors of the role, adding that “you can’t phone this one in.”
And he’s right, it’s 100 straight minutes of post-glam rockin’ out (in heels!) and there’s barely a moment when he won’t be on stage. Harris cites influences such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Tina Turner (“I’m loving the research”). Directed by Michael Mayer (who helmed the similarly hard-edged American Idiot), the production also features Lena Hall (Kinky Boots) in the gender-bending role of Hedwig’s lover/bandmate Yitzhak, and will feature a live onstage band, Tits of Clay (a sly reference to one of the show’s signature tunes, “Angry Inch”). Hedwig marks Harris’s first Broadway show since the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins in 2004.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch begins previews at NYC’s Belasco Theatre on March 29, with a scheduled opening night of April 22. Tickets and additional information can be found on the show’s official website.