Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hedwig Review

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” the first production by the New Helvetia Theatre, is a rare phenomenon. Technically a rock musical, it’s more like a searing window into your soul. We define ourselves in many ways: by ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, politics, profession, marital status and on and on. But nothing holds the mirror up to our nature more than our sexual identity–male or female.

Thus Hedwig and her angry inch obliterates that category, letting us see an inner self that transcends even sexuality, a being that combines both sexes.

With book by Cameron Mitchell and music by Stephen Trask, the performance is mostly a singing monologue by Hedwig (originally Hansel), who escaped the despair of East Berlin during the Cold War by undergoing a botched sex-change operation so he/she could marry an American soldier and leave his/her native land.

Abandoned in Kansas by her husband, Luther, she becomes a glamorous singer, played by Christopher Davis Carlisle in the current production, using original glam-rock songs to serenade audiences that see her in dives. She’s supported by Yitzhak (Nanci Zoppi), a cross-dressing female known as “the last Jewess of the Balkans.” And she names her band (played by the New Humans of Sacramento) “The Angry Inch,” after the scars of her operation.

Supported by projections of videos, art and photography on three screens, she details her sordid career with esoteric references to the medieval Gnostics, Plato and biblical apocrypha, to stun us with a fresh look at what it means to be human.

Nibroc Review

Arlene Hutton’s “Last Train to Nibroc,” now holding the second stage at the B Street Theatre in Sacramento, is a perennial favorite, a romantic comedy set in the forties and tracking the on-and-off courtship between two feisty young Kentuckians, the genial Raleigh (Jason Kuykendall) and the strong-willed May (Dana Brooke).

They meet on a train in 1940. He’s been discharged from the army after being diagnosed with epilepsy, and she’s on her way home where she hopes to marry a preacher and become a missionary. They meet again in subsequent scenes, where he remains unemployed while pursuing a career as a writer and she’s become a school teacher. Somehow their encounters seem to end up in conflict until the show reaches a happy ending.

“Last Train to Nibroc” has become so popular that Hutton now provides two sequels, “See Rock City” and “Gulf View Drive, to open at B Street on July 19 and August 30 respectively.

For detailed reviews of both productions and information about performances and prices, go to http://villagelife.com/story.php?id=691.0&pt=photo

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