The musical follows Hedwig and her roadie as they shadow Tommy’s tour, while exploring Hedwig’s past and complex gender identity.
Directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) and winner of four 2014 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival, Hedwig and the Angry Inch played to record-breaking sell-out crowds on Broadway and reprised this success in Cape Town in November and December 2016 - bringing home two Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards for its stars, Paul du Toit (The Rocky Horror Show, Same Time Next Year, Binnelanders and Backstage), and Genna Galloway (Grease, Showboat and Noah of Cape Town) for best actor and best actress in a musical.
With the production set to begin its three-week run at the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino, Dudgeon explained that the thought behind bringing this production up to Johannesburg is that it’s a Broadway legend.
“The play started off in small clubs and little venues like ours, where it was workshopped and it turned into this massive hit that’s been on Broadway and made into a movie, and slowly made its way around the world. It was the first time it came to South Africa when we brought it here.
“We thought it was absolutely sinful the idea of just keeping it to Gate69 and the Cape Town audience. We want to bring it to Johannesburg and see how audiences react to it,” he said.
Given the rather conservative, intolerant and phobic - the country still suffers from homophobia and transphobia - society that we live in (the re-rating of Inxeba is the best example at the moment), the production could not have come at a better time.
It is, according to its producers at Gate69, the perfect way to force people to face their prejudices.
“You most certainly don’t leave the show singing all the tunes at the top of your voice. But you certainly come out of the production having changed in some way. The piece will have an influence and it has had influence over the people who have come to see it. It’s serious subject material and very current in addressing the issues of in the observing the rights of transgender persons, of intersex people, LGBT rights, and it couldn’t be better timing for South Africa to experience something like this,” Van Rhyn said.
While the thought of producing the show is that of Gate69, the actual production has been produced by VR Theatrical ,which was also behind the staging of productions such as Rock of Ages. The show is worked under the direction of Elizma Badenhorst (I Love You, You’re Perfect,Now Change) with a four-piece rock band under the baton of Wessel Odendaal.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch will be on the boards for a limited - and unmissable - season from March 2 until April 1. This is Broadway, proudly South African style.
While Gate69 faces serious challenges associated with running an independent theatre, from funding issues to constantly having to ensure that they exhilarating line-ups. What is important at the end of the day is their unwavering drive to tell stories that are bold, in a fashionable setting. For a small independent theatre, they seem to have found their mark.
* Hedwig and the Angry Inch is on at the Pieter Toerien Main theatre at Montecasino until April 1. Tickets from R100 at Computicket.