Review: 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' at the Durham Performing Arts Center

Erin Fossa

OnStage North Carolina Critic

Sunday! Fun day! Better than a Monday… Yesterday, my Sunday-Funday was spent with great friends in Durham, North Carolina where we attended the matinee performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Euan Morton as Hedwig and the amazing Hannah Corneau as Yitzhak. 

I could not have enjoyed this show more. First of all, the music is fantastic, especially for someone like me who grew up with classic rock running through her veins. I felt like Sarah Jessica Parker in Footloose when her boyfriend won’t dance with her. I couldn’t sit still! I wanted to jump out of my seat and dance. Even the ballads were reminiscent of Guns and Roses or any of the other classic 80’s rock bands. It was a delightful mixture of a rock concert, a musical, and a drag show and I loved every minute of it. 

Morton was perfect in the role of Hedwig - engaging, hysterical, and certainly committed, especially when “interacting” (a.k.a. grinding upon) front row audience members. He was the kind of leading man you couldn’t take your eyes off of no matter what he was doing or not doing onstage. Nothing about his performance was overdone or overcommitted, which I feel like would be easy to do in a role such as this. 

The real surprise though, was Hannah Corneau in the the role of Hedwig’s battered husband and faithful backup singer, Yitzhak. Her voice was so pure and strong that I was dying for her to sing more! She did it all, from a rough, gravely male rock voice to a hauntingly beautiful partial rendition of “I Will Always Love You”. At one point, Hedwig takes a stab at Yitzhak saying that “Idina Menzel did it better” which I found hilarious, because Corneau’s voice is so much more beautiful than Idina Menzel’s, in my opinion. And I was shocked to learn that this is her Broadway tour debut! I could find very little of her other performances online. She is virtually an unknown in the Broadway community which I’m sure will change after this tour. What an incredibly exciting time for her and her career! She is nothing but pure, raw talent.

The beautiful thing about this show is that I came into it feeling like most people do right now - exhausted by political controversy, never-ending protests, and the opinions of everyone popping up everywhere. However, despite jokingly addressing many of those topics, the show was not another political statement or a commentary on sexual orientation in today’s world. 

It was a story. 

It was one man’s story of a lifetime of being handed power one minute and having it ripped away the next. And for the first time during this particular concert, he chooses to give up his power and place it in the hands of the man he has been belittling throughout the entire show. He strips himself down (literally and figuratively) of all the glamour until he is just himself and stands by as Yitzhak assumes the role he was born to play. And it brings him joy, not only to see Yitzhak become the star, but to stand back and sing from the shadows for once, teaching us that no matter who you are, humility is always the winning choice. 

It was a rock concert. It was a musical. But more than that, it was a story. And these incredible performers told that story with flawless perfection. Bravo to the performers, musicians, and the entire creative team behind the national tour of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.