Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Re-bar, 1114 Howell (at Boren), 328-0388 or 324-6500. $16. Thurs-Sun at 8. Through Feb 11.

"LADIES AND Gentlemen, whether you like it or not... HEDWIG!" Thus we are introduced to this "internationally ignored song stylist"--a hard-rockin' victim of a badly botched sex change, a long hard road, and a Juice Newton wig. A brief synopsis: Hansel is a young East Berliner who dreams of America and rock 'n' roll stardom. He is seduced by a sketchy American GI, who offers to spirit him off to the States with one small stipulation: "he" must become a "she". The operation is a tragic failure, and Hansel finds him/ herself lost, alone, and sexless in a Kansas trailer park. What's a girly-boy to do? Sing. And so Hedwig is born--an enigma, a contradiction, a creature of two sexes and two cultures. "The Angry Inch" refers both to Hedwig's backup band and the tiny mound of flesh the failed sex change has left him/her to "work with": the spot where her "penis used to be and vagina never was. " This is her show.

Much more than a drag show with kicky tunes, Hedwig is a true rock opera with an emphasis on rock--more concert than play, a glam/punk extravaganza with a story line. Nick Garrison as Hedwig is dazzling: ferocious, magnetic, tragically hilarious. Skating on the razor's edge of camp, he humorously portrays all of Hedwig's exquisite pain and pathos without compromising her integrity. He's a combination of The Rose and Lady Bunny: Janice Joplin with a penis, Meatloaf with tits, Courtney Love with talent. Sweating buckets and sipping Coors Light with a straw, Garrison belted out the score's radio-ready songs with fierceness and electricity. His performance had me riveted; I simply could not take my eyes off of him. Garrison's amazing talent combined with the heartbreaking crooning of Sarah Rudinoff as Hedwig's "husband" Yitzak sent chills down my spine. I gave Hedwig the most honest and enthusiastic standing ovation since--well, ever. I seriously question the intelligence of anyone who doesn't see this show. Twice.

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