Christopher Nelson

You have Jerick Hoffer, a 25-year-old Cornish-trained drag star on the rise—soon to be a TV star. You have director Ian Bell, known for bringing together the best fringe talent in the city to stage raucous bar theater. You have the huge, historic Moore to play in. And you have amazing material: Hedwig and the Angry Inch—the tale of a German "girlyboy" who, in the late 1980s, gets a botched sex-change operation to become a woman so he can marry an American and get the hell out of East Berlin. A year after the wedding, our hero, now named Hedwig, is divorced and living in a trailer park in Kansas and watching the Berlin Wall come down on bootleg cable. Hedwig falls in love with a Christian rocker named Tommy Speck, gives him the much more marketable name Tommy Gnosis, writes a bunch of songs for him that go on to be huge hits, and then gets dumped. Now Hedwig is traveling the country, following Tommy Gnosis on his hugely successful tour and performing in his shadow.

Because it's supposed to be a bar show and Hedwig is supposed to be an "internationally ignored song stylist barely standing before you," it doesn't make much sense that we're in the Moore, which has 1,419 seats. Bell could have devised a work-around—Hedwig is sleeping with the Moore's booker, Hootie and the Blowfish canceled, whatever—but instead it's unexplained. All that Hoffer, as Hedwig, says is, "The Moore, huh? Well, I guess it's true what they say: More really is less." Hoffer works hard and has great timing, but his German accent is unconvincing and the highest and lowest notes are not in his range. (When Seattle actor Nick Garrison played Hedwig, he could sing the shit out of those notes, which gave Hedwig extra poignancy—how unfair that such a singer would be ignored by the world.) Hoffer is better known as his drag alter ego Jinkx Monsoon, a hard-drinking working mom who makes her TV debut on the new season of RuPaul's Drag Race this week. He seems too young to play a washed-up performer who was in her late 20s in the 1980s, as Hedwig calls for. Hoffer is of the here and now, and his star is ascendant. The season premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race is January 28, the day after Hedwig closes. recommended