Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig (Twitter)
NPH has posted the first promo photo of his turn in drag as the lead in Broadway's "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," and boy is this role ever a far stretch from Barney and Doogie.
"I am simultaneously ecstatic and terrified to be stepping into Hedwig's heels," Harris said back in June about his casting. "It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime role and I can't wait to begin the journey."
"Hedwig" was written by John Cameron Mitchell, who originated the lead character off Broadway in 1998 before repeating the role in a cult indie film version in 2001.
"Who better to pass the wig to but the finest entertainer of his generation?" Mitchell said of Harris. "It's like you're putting together a fantasy rock band and Paul McCartney agrees to play bass," added composer Stephen Trask.
The new "Hedwig" is due to open April 22, 2014 at the Belasco Theatre.
The character of Hedwig was born "Hansel," an effeminate boy in East Germany, who falls in love with an American soldier named Luther towards the end of the Cold War. In order to escape, he must marry Luther, so he takes his mother's name and passport and heads in for a sex change operation. But the operation doesn't go according to plan, which leaves Hedwig between genders.
"The Angry Inch" later becomes the name of his unsuccessful band of fellow Eastern European ex-pats, which tours Bligewater restaurants throughout America. Hedwig's journey also involves a love story in Kansas with a boy named Tommy Speck, who goes on to become rock star Tommy Gnosis — gaining his notoriety from the songs that Hedwig wrote for him. The rest of the show involves Hedwig's journey to finally find true love in his life.
One of the best parts of the show is its incredible music. Two of the best tracks from "Hedwig" include "The Origin of Love" and "Midnight Radio." The soundtrack inspired a 2003 all-star charity tribute album called "Wig In a Box," which featured artists including Rufus Wainwright, Sleater-Kinney, Fred Schneider of The B-52's, They Might Be Giants, The Breeders, Yoko Ono, Yo La Tengo, Ben Kweller, Ben Folds, Cyndi Lauper, and even …. Stephen Colbert!
The original production won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical and both John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask won Obies. Rolling Stone called it "the Best Rock Musical Ever" in 2001. The film, also directed by Mitchell, nabbed the Audience Award and Best Director Awards at Sundance. And Mitchell received the Best New Director honors from the National Board of Review, the Gotham Awards, and the L.A. Film Critics Society.
It's certainly not NPH's first time on Broadway, but it's his first time returning to the Great White Way since "How I Met Your Mother" took off. The multi-talented actor's résumé boasts three Broadway shows, including the dual role of The Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald in the Tony Award-winning production of "Assassins," and as the emcee in "Cabaret" (alongside Deborah Gibson). He made his Broadway debut as Anne Heche's unexpected suitor in "Proof." He also starred as Mark in the Los Angeles and touring companies of "Rent," a production of which he also directed at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010. Oh, and he's also hosted this little theater event called the Tony Awards four times in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013.
So, what do you think of NPH has a glammed up drag rock star? How do you think he'll do compared to John Cameron Mitchell's original Hedwig (below)? Sound off in the comments.
- Performing Arts
- Arts & Entertainment
- Neil Patrick Harris
- John Cameron Mitchell