National tour of ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ debuts in San DiegoEntertainment Feature, Section 4A Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
Euan Morton talks about his role as the genderqueer Hedwig Robinson
Hedwig and the Angry Inch became a cult hit back in 1998 when it premiered Off Broadway with James Cameron Mitchell playing the title role. Mitchell also wrote the show’s story, with music and lyrics written by Stephen Trask.
Its successful Off Broadway run ended in 2000, after many well-known Broadway stars (Michael Ceveris, Taye Diggs, Andrew Rannells and Matt McGrath) stepped in to play the title role and after it won both an Obie Award and Outer Critics Circle award for Best Off Broadway Musical.
The show went on to become a major motion picture, starring Mitchell, as well as being performed in London’s West End as well as productions in Austria, Brazil, Canada and all over Germany.
In 2014 it opened on Broadway starring Neil Patrick Harris who was nominated and took home a Tony Award for his performance as Hedwig. The show also won Best Revival of a Musical and Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Lena Hall).
The show hit the road in 2015 touring the U.S. and will be here in San Diego at The Civic Theatre from Nov. 29-Dec. 4.
Playing the role of Hedwig has been said to be a huge undertaking. The immense energy level combined with the music is enough to keep any actor on their toes.
The 2015 tour hit the road with television and Broadway actor Darren Criss playing the role of Hedwig. Criss is best known for his work on the television show Glee, however, San Diego audiences get to welcome Scottish actor Euan Morton to the role of Hedwig.
Morton, born in Falkirk, Scotland, is best known for his star turning role as Boy George in the musical Taboo, which earned him both a Tony Award nomination and also an Olivier Award nomination (London’s version of the U.S. Tony Award). He has also done a few films and had a few guest appearances on shows like The Good Wife and Frasier. He is also the recipient of a Helen Hayes Award for playing the role of Leo Frank in the Jason Robert Brown musical Parade.
Morton was awarded the role of Hedwig the old fashioned way, by auditioning for the part.
“[I] auditioned hard,” Morton said. “Even a dance call. It was cathartic. Like every other audition, you throw your hat in the ring. Whatever that actually means.”
Morton has certainly had his hands full going from playing the flamboyant real life character of Boy George to playing Hedwig. Some might think the characters have a lot in common, but as Morton explains it Hedwig is definitely a lot more work.
“Hedwig is tougher,” Morton confessed. “Playing George required a lot less physical movement (Hedwig is a spry one). Also, Hedwig’s world, whilst being a spectacle of light and music, is also a deeply intimate one. You have to work hard to balance the two. More responsibility.”
To many audience members the show will happen, they will see a great performance and show but probably not realize the work that goes into playing a role like this. It takes discipline and lots of preparation before the show, and yes, even after the show comes down. Morton’s process may sound simple but in the end it will make doing the show, for him, that much easier.
“Warming up, and down, will be my best friend,” Morton admits. “[Both] vocally and physically.”
This being Morton’s debut city, one might wonder what his rehearsal process was like leading up to his big opening night here in San Diego. Given how strenuous the role and show might come across, Morton was reassuring in saying his rehearsal process was, in a word, fun.
“The most fun I’ve had in a long time,” Morton confessed. “My usual insecurities have been largely absent, I think because the team is so generous and open to sharing ideas. Also because Hedwig herself is going through her own shit. She doesn’t need me bringing mine in too. In fact, she just won’t have it!!”
Speaking of the role of Hedwig and who she is, Morton was willing to share a little bit about what he likes about the role of Hedwig and what his favorite part of the show is.
“I like that she is searching for something and willing to do it on stage in front of an audience,” Morton said. “I like that even at her lowest, she still came to town and put on a show. I like that she feels safe in every town she goes to, safe enough to tell the whole truth anyway. She may be in wigs and make-up, with a new name and an old lover, but she is honest, important and true. It’s all fun to play and I am being challenged to do things I’ve never done before. But it’s nice to get that sit down period, where you really meet Tommy for the first time. I like having a sit down!”
Between his work as Boy George and now playing Hedwig, Morton was probably best known for his concert appearances across the country. For the last few years Morton has been singing to sold out audiences in New York City at the Oak Room at The Algonquin as well as Joe’s Pub and Town Hall to name a few. This work is quite different than being on stage playing to thousands, but Morton says in some ways it’s a lot like playing Hedwig.
“[It’s] the chance to interact with an audience in a more direct way,” Morton said. “Sharing knowledge and music, and learning from them in return. A chance to share, unfiltered in the moment. Very Hedwigian.”
He released his first album, NewClear, in 2006 and he released his second album Caledonia-The Homecoming in 2011.
For now, he is slated to play Hedwig until July 2017. As for what happens after the tour ends, Morton sounds as if he not so sure what his future may hold given the country’s current political status.
“We live in a fast-paced and quickly changing society,” Morton said. “Soon we will all be called to answer some tough questions of our own. I have been given the joy, the honor and the responsibility of sharing Hedwig and her Angry Inch for eight months. I’m going to focus on putting my heart and soul into spreading her message. Afterwards, I will go wherever I am called. I have less idea today, of what the future might look like, than ever before, but I will be on the frontline of change, if there is anything I am needed to do.”
Tickets for Hedwig and the Angry Inch can be purchased at broadwaysd.com or by calling 619-570-1100.
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