‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’
By Denise K. James, Special to The Post and Courier
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I’ve seen the film version of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and it’s not the kind of story that you soon forget.
My eyes lit up at the time, sitting there in my Film Theory class, and to this day I tell people that it’s the best movie ever. But like many fans of the film, I’ve never had the thrill of seeing “Hedwig” performed live on stage. Now, our chance has arrived.
provided by Kyle Barnett
Brian Porter plays Hedwig in What If’s production of ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch.’ The musical is based off the film of the same name.
A new company in town known as What If Productions promises to deliver quite the rock show at the American Theater.
What If Productions was created by Kyle Barnette, who is known around town for his theater work with Charleston Stage and the Charleston Ballet Theatre. Barnette got his start in theater back in Memphis, Tenn., working at Playhouse on the Square.
“I was involved there for about five years,” he says. And the title “What If” comes from a catchphrase we all had back then, when we’d ask ourselves, ‘What if we did this?’ Now, I like it as our title because it opens us to many possibilities; it doesn’t limit itself.”
Barnette hopes to produce many different types of shows with What If and says he enjoys working with various genres and artists.
“I’d like to offer different things — spoken word, dancing — and not just stick with one type of performance,” he says. “I have my hands in many pots, and I want them to all enhance each other. I think Charleston has room for unique ideas.”
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is the first show produced by What If, and Barnette and the crew are excited to share it with Charleston. “The great thing about Hedwig is that it’s entertaining, unique and has a great rock-’n'-roll score,” says Barnette. “It’s one part rock concert and one part stand-up routine.”
if you go
what: ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’
when: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
where: The American Theater, 446 King St.
how much: $20 general admission in advance. $24 at the door. $100 VIP cocktail table.
tickets: 793-1731 or online atwhatifproductions.org.
fyi: Mature audiences only.
The Hedwig character will be performed by Brian Porter, another member of Charleston’s theater scene. Porter met Barnette back in Memphis when they each worked with Playhouse on the Square.
“Kyle and I have done several shows together with Charleston Stage, and we were both ready for a new project,” says Porter. “Kyle enjoyed my performance in ‘Cabaret’ and asked me to come aboard.”
Porter is excited about playing Hedwig, a character known for her emotional turmoil and passion.
“I love really risque and emotional roles,” he explains. “I even like a bit of melancholy. I think that darker stories can lead to more interpretation. When I was working in Memphis, I saw a production of ‘Hedwig’ there, and it completely fascinated me. Her character really finds herself at the end of the musical despite her misery. There are parts of her life that she sincerely enjoys and appreciates.”
The music director for ‘Hedwig,’ Alex Hennessey, also is stoked to be involved. As a music theory major at the College of Charleston, he met Barnette and Porter while playing piano for “Cabaret.”
“The music in ‘Hedwig’ is really glam rock, and it’s a little post-punk,” he says. “I’d say it’s the best of David Bowie and the best of ’80s punk music. There’s something for everyone, and it celebrates everyone’s tastes. It’s a good mix of genres.”
If you go to ‘Hedwig,’ you’ll see at how involved audience members are. Forget about an uncomfortable chair and a stuffy play. This musical will be more like a party.
“It’s a show, but it’s also an event,” explains Barnette. “It’s more like being at an underground rock club instead of just watching a play. We’re going to have a preshow put on by the Bizzaro Burlesque girls, and there will be people walking around and cocktails served. Hedwig will be walking around, too, as she performs. It will be really different and fun.”