The answer is a resounding no. Hedwig and the Angry Inch turns the Belasco from a Broadway showcase into a creditable rock concert experience. Director Michael Mayer aided by the musical staging by Spencer Liff have found a way to turn this lovely theatre into the right venue to showcase Hedwig and her life experience. John Cameron Mitchell's script has been tweaked to bring it to the present day. While this may make some audience members go crazy trying to do the math on Hedwig's age, you really should just forget reality and let Hedwig dazzle you with her funny, poignant life story, punctuated with incredible rock music that will make you laugh, cry and get your mind expanded.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch tells the story of Hedwig, born Hansel in East Berlin to a German mother and American GI father. Meeting another American GI Hansel gets an offer of marriage and a chance to immigrate to the US. However, in order to marry he must become a woman. The subsequent sex change operation leads to the Angry Inch of the title. Landing in the US, Hansel, now using mom's name Hedwig meets a general's son, Tommy. A brilliant songwriter, Hedwig helps Tommy start his rock career before being abandoned by Tommy who steals and takes credit for the songs Hedwig wrote. Hedwig follows Tommy's tour playing in the shadows, a bitter musical stalker. Now in NYC Hedwig plays Broadway, ("well, east of Broadway") while Tommy plays in Times Square. The stage is set for the failed musical that closed the night before. (Suffice it to say that the title of that failed musical is brilliant satire of the movie to musical trope). Telling her life story through a concert experience Hedwig takes her audience along on an emotional ride.
When Neil Patrick Harris was offered the role of Hedwig he had gigantic gold boots to fill. While he has an extensive theatrical resume, the average member of the audience will know him for his nine seasons as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother or as a popular host for the annual Tony Awards. Would Mr. Harris be able to make the audience accept him as Hedwig or would they simply say, "oh, that's the charming host banter he does so well." Fear not, Hedheads. It may take a few moments for you to let Neil Patrick Harris disappear and Hedwig Robinson to emerge. Once he gets the show rolling, Mr. Harris is a ball of nuclear energy that blazes through the cosmos that is Broadway. Yet, in the melancholy moments Mr. Harris has the heart of his audience. The quiet moments are pin drop quiet, the rock moments bring the roof down. It is a mesmerizing performance that will be recognized by the Tony committee.
Mr. Harris is ably backed up by the Angry Inch band. Justin Craig (Skszp, music director), Matt Duncan (Jacek), Tim Mislock (Krzyzhtoff) and Peter Yanowitz (Schlatko). Yet the gem of this seeming solo endeavor is Lena Hall as Yitzhak, Hedwig's put upon husband. Ms. Hall has an amazing voice filled with anger and anguish. One hopes the Tony committee does not overlock her contributions to the experience that is Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Hegwig and the Angry Inch is being performed at the Belasco Theatre in New York City. For tickets and other performance information please visit hedwigbroadway.com or telecharge.com.