Friday was Hedwig and it was like going to church. Mark, Mikelle, Dia, George, Elaine and Lara! (relatively fresh off the boat from New Zealand) were all in attendance and it was a wonderful time. I believe that Elaine and George, who were complete Hedwig virgins, were amused by the fervor of the Hedwig fans at the show . . . gazing about it was easy to spot people who (like me) were mouthing or singing every line.
So what is it about Hedwig? What's Hedwig about? It's difficult for me to articulate. I've just written and deleted four summary sentences, each of which is probably true, but none of which actually captures the essence of its beauty. Beauty is often like that. I think real beauty always has this quality; an attempt to describe or summarize something truly beautiful renders it hollow. Truly beautiful things have to be experienced.
One thing, I think, that Hedwig is not about is gender. This may sound ludicrous given that the protagonist is a transexual, but Hedwig obliterates gender. Gender is put center stage and then removed from consideration by twisting you in knots as you are forced to consider the universal qualities of desire and love. And the journey is both touching and hilarious.
Having seen the Hedwig film many many times, I was curious about what sort of reaction I'd have to the stage show that spawned the film. My biggest response was: what an amazing movie. The adaptation of the film was both true to the stage show and amplified--in amazing ways--the story, the characters, and the themes. I walked away with a huge appreciation of what one can do on stage and what is possible on film.
If you're in Seattle, you have to see this show.