Halifax, meet Hedwig | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Halifax, meet Hedwig

Help kick off Pride with a production of the queer punk-rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Halifax, meet Hedwig
Morissey as Hedwig: “It stretched me as a singer, an actor and as a human.”

Just in time for Pride, Halifax audiences will have a chance to wig out and enjoy what Rolling Stone has dubbed "the best rock musical ever."

The Tony Award-winning Hedwig and the Angry Inch, written by John Cameron Mitchell with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, follows the story of Hedwig Robinson, a genderqueer singer who escapes from communist East Berlin to a trailer park in Kansas.

Directed by Margot Begin and starring Andrew Morrisey as Hedwig—they're both from Truro—Hedwig touches on themes of identity, gender and acceptance, while also giving audiences dramatic rock performances and raunchy punk humour. 

Now based in New York, Morrisey originally played Hedwig in a Montreal production of the musical last year, produced by Noelle Hannibal, who also co-starred as Yitzhak. The pair reprise their roles in a new production and will tour three Canadian cities this summer, with Halifax being the first stop.

Morrisey is "beyond thrilled" to return to Nova Scotia and debut Hedwig to an east coast audience. "This show is so near and dear to my heart, and I'm so excited to bring it to Nova Scotia specifically," he says.

Last fall, the online Montreal Theatre Hub*commended Morrisey on his performance, writing that he "commands the space and exudes the necessary charisma for the sassy songstress," hailing the show as a "triumph in poignant genderqueer production."

Begin, who previously worked with Morrisey for a touring children's production, is "beyond confident" in Morrisey's and Hannibal's performances. After preparing for the show remotely since late last year, the trio spent six days together in intense rehearsals in Montreal last week. "These are complex characters," says Begin. "Not all of it is pretty. There's some rough stuff that happens. The actors have been so open and wanting to find their own voice within who these characters are. I love being part of that process and having actors who trust me and are willing to truly explore."

Morrisey says while Hedwig is his favourite character he's played to date, she's also been the most challenging. "It's the most singing I've ever had to do in a musical. Preparing for that is extensive. I studied with an acting teacher in New York, and we went through the whole script," he says. "It's so dense and there's so much happening. Its stretched me as a singer, an actor and as a human."

A glam-punk love story that's sure to leave you laughing, crying and most definitely singing along, Begin says it's the ultimate message in Hedwig—to love and accept yourself and others—that speaks perfectly to Pride.  "It's incredibly poignant and at times a very painful...but so beautiful and so necessary. It's going to engage people around some really challenging conversations around gender and identity." 

An outrageous and hilarious tale of freedom, true love and survival, Hedwig certainly isn't for the faint of heart, but Morrisey says it's a story many can relate to.

"There's something about playing Hedwig's journey during the show that makes me feel like I'm hopping on a train that's moving at full speed," he says. "Even though Hedwig might seem far from the norm, her journey is universally understood."

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