It’s becoming a running theme: Someone I wrote about 15, 20, 25 years ago finally gets their day in the sun, and I get to reconnect. Call it Early Adopter Syndrome, or, as poet Mike Tyler says, the Turtle Generation finally crossing the finish line. In today’s edition, it’s a his and a her: that old queer punk Hedwig. Eighteen years ago I interviewed John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, the creators of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for The Village Voice. I was such a tireless Hedwig advocate back then that Carrie Brownstein — yeah, I was onto her a long time ago too — used to tease me about my obsession. Cue forward to 2014, and the old “slip of a girlie” is finally on Broadway, and, er, snatching Tonys. I caught up with John and Stephen recently for the LA Weekly. They are both rabid music fans, and it’s always great fun to talk about punk and politics with them. The revival of Hedwig launches at the Pantages tonight, with Darren Criss in the title role and Tony-winner Lena Hall as Yitzhak and, on Sunday nights, Hedwig — more gender warping from this vanguard show.
Tag Archives: Pantages
I’ve never not enjoyed a show or album of Alicia Keys, though I’ve also felt she can also veer into lyrical cliche. I wanted to love her at the Pantages Friday. But her voice sounded pitchy, made worse by too much echo. She oversang and overplayed. I underappreciated.
I hated the ’80s. The vapidity, narcisissm, and machismo of hair metal epitomize everything that made me miserable during the reign of Reagan. And yet, I had a great time at the Pantages opening of Rock of Ages last night. The jukebox musical craftily written by Chris D’Arienzo and exuberantly directed by Kristin Hanggi treasures the pure-pleasure hedonism of the music while utterly deflating its pomp and pretension.
Rock‘s a thoroughly cheesy show with a predictable plot and stock, stereotyped characters that too often draw on racial, sexual, and ethnic stereotypes. But it’s just so much fun, largely because of blow-out performances by divas (male and female) who get the connection between MTV hard rock and Broadway musical just right. Constantine Maroulis is pitch-perfect cute and charming — Warner Brothers needs to give him the lead in the movie version. Patrick Lewallen conducts the show as the Shakespearean fool lighting guy with the swivel hips and jazz hands. Rebecca Faulkenberry belts her way out of the eye-candy burlesque bubble. MiG Ayesa preens and prances and writhes and pukes as the Axl Rose-esque overcooked rock star. Travis Walker and Nick Cordero rise above their cliched roles.
Rock of Ages manages to resuscitate and make meaningful again overplayed, overwrought 1980s anthems like “Wanted: Dead or Alive” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Without an original score, it’s no Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Rent, or Hair. But it’s about as much fun as you can get from a night in the theater.
And since it was opening night, it was a star-studded event. Weird Al Yankovic and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a lot of Botoxed, blown-out celebs who looked like they are or were almost famous — and probably were. I thought we were behind Jack Lemmon, but he’s dead, so trying to figure out who it was. I suck at recognizing celebrities.