Crested Butte Mountain Theatre hits a high note with this one
By Cayla Vidmar
All good artists—whether writers, fine artists, actors or playwrights—create impactful work by taking the particular and making it universal. The performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre (CBMT) is just such a piece. The show continues this weekend, with performances August 2-4. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25; advanced purchase is recommended and tickets can be purchased online at CBMountainTheatre.org.
The story of Hedwig is particular, but the audience leaves with the heart-wrenching understanding that we are all on the same journey.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a transgender woman from East Berlin who is lured with love by a man to the United States, and undergoes a botched sex change operation before departing. Hedwig tells the audience directly about her past struggles and heartbreak through an extended monologue paired with rock songs. With help from her band The Angry Inch (played by Candice Bradley, Christian Bray, Sam Smythe and Alex Stevenson) and her backup singer Yitzhak, Hedwig takes us through her quest for her other half and her identity.
With the high-quality acting, professional singing, great direction and expert backstage management, audiences in Crested Butte are lucky to get a professional caliber production in the Mallardi Cabaret Theatre.
The Tony award-winning musical is brought to life by the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre, directed by Angie Hornbrook, with Gray Lynn as Hedwig and Malia Jones as Yitzhak, leading the performance.
The musical, written by John Cameron Mitchell, with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, originally opened off-Broadway in 1998, and in 2014, the show hit Broadway and won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical. The show is described as a “groundbreaking rock musical” that is “hilarious, harrowing, and essentially uplifting for anyone who’s ever felt different,” according to the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre playbill.
The audience can expect an intimate experience with Hedwig, played by nationally experienced actor and Crested Butte transplant Gray Lynn. Hailing from New York, Lynn is an accomplished actor with experience in Disney Theatricals and Universal Pictures, among others. Lynn is the kind of actor who gives a piece of himself to the audience. Those in attendance will get the opportunity to come away with a better understanding of the unique struggles of the transgender community, while empathetically relating to the quest that every person—regardless of sexual orientation or gender—seeks: love, self-acceptance and finding one’s true identity.
Lynn shook the intimate Mallardi Cabaret Theatre with wailing rock songs, a sass and humor reminiscent of every queen you’ve ever wanted to know, and a performance that touched the very real and raw parts of being human. I was told that there wasn’t a dry-eye in the front row, and I don’t doubt it. Lynn’s portrayal of the universal experience of being human, our desire for love and to be seen as we are at our most authentic, is an intimately relatable struggle. Lynn’s energy and commitment, to his character rivaled those of androgynous glam rockers, a la David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Lynn owned every inch of the stage with a stiletto strut and raw embodiment of Hedwig’s humanity, tribulations, breakdown and surrender.
Malia Jones, playing Yitzhak, coasted seamlessly between male and drag performances, capturing each without missing a grungy punk rock beat or sashay in her beaded drag getup. Jones and The Angry Inch created the perfect foundation for Hedwig to stomp around on, and the performances of each allowed Lynn to come alive from her aggressive rock numbers, to her wilting love songs.
Angie Hornbrook, a longtime CBMT member, is directing Hedwig. This marks the 10th play Hornbrook has directed, adding to her full theatre repertoire, which includes acting and more recent productions, including Always Patsy Cline and Sylvia. Hornbrook writes via email, “I am in love with the material and think John Cameron Mitchell and Steven Trask have created an outstanding piece that really everyone can relate to.”
Other cast members who rounded out this interactive production include the backup singers, Barron Farnell, Iain Patterson and Bailey Valian, who added lively depth to the performance, with excellent costumes and great vocals. The actors easily maneuvered through small technical difficulties with ease typical of seasoned pros.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a must-see musical for all types, and whether you’re a theatre regular or novice, you’ll come away deeply entertained. The production embodied the glam rock stylings that inspired the music. The resplendent costumes were on point—from every sequin, bead and wig, to the mesh, leather and conductor hats, each actor looked the part. Lynn stands out as an icon in drag, and the art he made with his performance intrigued, entertained and did exactly what art should do: make us a little uncomfortable by challenging our world view.