Talk about playing against type! Hold on! The hunky, straight, African-American TAYE DIGGS now stars as Hedwig, the East German rock singer with a botched sex-change operation and humongous blonde wigs. When he climbs heights and leaps down in gold platform ankle boots onto the stage floor of Broadway’s Belasco Theater, his ankles do get wobbly, but never his voice. Whether he’s wailing out hard rock or doing quiet, heart-wrenching songs of abandonment and sorrow, his voice moves as fluidly as his body when he rolls on the floor or does an astonishingly high kick.
Taye Diggs made his Broadway debut in 1994 in the Tony Award-winning revival of Carousel. He played Benny in Rent, and again in the 2005 film version. His other New York stage credits include Chicago, Wicked, and Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party. His many film and television credits include How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Go, Chicago, The Best Man, its follow-up The Best Man Holiday, and six seasons on ABC’s hit drama Private Practice. But Hedwig???
Diggs indeed pulls off a helluva Hedwig in a line of Hedwigs, the first being JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL. Mitchell wrote the book for HEDWIG and the ANGRY INCH in the 1990’s when he and the lyricist and composer, STEPHEN TRASK, performed their sketches together at Soho club Don Hill’s. Mitchell also was in the award-winning 2001 movie version of Hedwig.
NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, one of the recent Hedwigs, won the 2014 Tony for Best Performance for his role. At the ceremony, he thanked the director, MICHAEL MAYER (Spring Awakening, American Idiot, Everyday Rapture,) for the specific notes he wrote on the script. I would love to see the notes he wrote for Taye Diggs. I was sometimes not sure whether Diggs was adlibbing or whether the script was partly rewritten for him. There were little shticks thrown in about Diggs’ ex-wife, Idina Menzel, and a remark about her iconic song Let It Go from Frozen. Taye even referred to himself as the “Hed-nig.” Although the audience cracked up, I think it took him out of character.
REBECCA NAOMI JONES (American Idiot, Passing Strangers) broke out of her subservient role as Yitzhak, Hedwig’s male wife. At first, she’s dressed in denim, hair in flat braids, only singing in the background. She blew the audience away when she emerged the equal to Hedwig, be-glittered and be-wigged as she belted out her song.
This 2014 Tony Award winning Best Musical Revival is running for a limited 12-week engagement at BROADWAYS BELASCO THEATER (111 West 44th Street).
HEDWIG and the ANGRY INCH won four 2014 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival by the Tony Awards, the Drama Desk Awards, Drama League Awards, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. The Grammy nominated Original Broadway Cast album for Hedwig and the Angry Inch is available from Atlantic Records.
The show was originally produced by David Binder off off Broadway at Westbeth and then, under the direction of Peter Askin, ran over two years at the Jane Street Theatre beginning in February 1998. The musical won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical and both John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask won Obies in 2001. Stage productions have played for many years in Japan and in 2008, Korea hosted a popular televised reality show about the search for a new star to play Hedwig.
The creative team for Hedwig and The Angry Inch features Emmy Award nominee Spencer Liff (musical staging), Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Julian Crouch (scenic design), Tony Award and two-time Oscar nominee Arianne Phillips (costume design), four-time Tony Award winner Kevin Adams (lighting design), Mike Potter (hair and makeup design), Tony Award nominee and platinum-selling record producer Tim O’Heir (sound design), Benjamin Pearcy for 59 Productions (projection design), John Bair/Phosphene (animation), James Calleri (casting), Tony and Grammy Award nominee Ethan Popp (music supervisor & music coordinator), Justin Craig (music director), Liz Caplan (vocal supervision), Stephen Gabis (dialect coach), and Johanna McKeon (associate director).
The members of “The Angry Inch,” Hedwig’s band, are music director Justin Craig (guitar and keyboards), Matt Duncan (bass), Tim Mislock (guitar), and Peter Yanowitz (drums).