Theater: Neil Patrick Harris rocks ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’

Hedwig and the Angry Inch Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris dons the iconic wig on his iconic head.
Credit: Joan Marcus

Watching “Hedwig” only makes it more incredulous that Neil Patrick Harris never before helmed his own Broadway show, but even more apparent that he waited to find just the right vehicle and the right time to take — and take, and take, and take — center stage.

Our Friday night showing of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” was full of boisterous, hard-core fans. Some were there for NPH rather than, necessarily, the musical — usually easy to differentiate. And there were also plenty of people going in blind, just enthusiastic to see a hugely hyped rock ’n’ roll musical and reflecting the energy coming at them from the rest of the crowd. Everyone was having a great time well before the first musician stepped onstage. By the time NPH showed up, descending from the rafters in his notorious blonde wig? Forget it.

What follows is an uninterrupted 100-minute glam rock show with songs following the narrative of the life and times of Hedwig, born Hansel, who near-completed a sex change in the 1980s in order to bypass the Berlin Wall and come to America. The operative word there is “near,” since, as we come to find out, the operation was botched: hence the angry inch, for which Hedwig’s present back-up band is named. But hey, she made it over here to play this “one-night-only” concert just for us in Times Square! Yes, the play makes conceits to play out in present-day NYC. Well, by that we mean terrible jokes about “The Lion King” and “The Hurt Locker,” so really it’s just groan-worthy humor for middle-aged tourists, as per on the Great White Way.

But don’t let that detract from the essence of the play: It does hold up 16 years after it originally played off-Broadway and 13 years since the movie, starring creator John Cameron Mitchell. NPH is no JCM, but you have to forgive him for that. While his voice doesn’t have the same strength and caliber as a real rock artist, and his German accent tends to waft in and out, there’s no doubt that he’s giving it his all in every single moment of the show. He effortlessly supplies all of the brass and sass necessary to make broad audiences fall in love with a bitter, foul-mouthed and fallen heroine; and damn, if he doesn’t look great doing it.

But his talent truly shines when he’s able to sing in his natural range, transforming into Tommy Gnosis and crooning “Wicked Little Town.” As the play winds down and Hedwig’s defenses lower, along with the sets, we also get to see a little more of the talented five-person band and much more of the exceptionally talented Lena Hall, who’s rightfully just been nominated for a Tony Award for her work as Hedwig’s “husband,” Yitzhak. Director Michael Mayer also got a nod last week. And, yes, Neil Patrick Harris has been nominated too — but was there ever any doubt?

‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’
Through Aug. 17
Belasco Theatre,
111 W. 44th St.
$49-$152,
www.hedwigbroadway.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Local

Mayor announces plan for solar panels at city…

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the planned installation of 24 new solar panels at city schools on Monday morning. The panels, a $28 million investment,…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

Movies

Review: Jason Reitman's 'Men, Women & Children' is…

Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" takes a hysterical and melodramatic look at disconnection in the digital age, turning strong actors into zombies.

Television

TV watch list, Monday, Sept. 29: 'Castle,' 'Mom'…

Tune in for the season premieres of "Castle," "Mom" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…

Education

Nap rooms: The latest college campus trend

College is a time filled with new experiences (and lots of schoolwork), leaving little time for students to get a good night’s rest. University of…