On July 22, actor Taye Diggs will return to Broadway for the first time in a decade in his most exciting role to date.
Diggs is the first African-American actor to play Hedwig in a major New York production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and this is the first time the cast will be all black as Rebecca Naomi Jones plays Yitzhak. This rock musical is more relevant than ever. It is about “a fictional rock and roll band fronted by a genderqueer East German singer named Hedwig. Hedwig, formerly Hansel, assumes a female persona after a botched sex change operation which was performed to allow her to marry an American man and escape East Germany,” according to Wikipedia. The book is by John Cameron Mitchell, and the music and lyrics are by Stephen Trask. It was directed by Michael Mayer.
The production has received rave reviews and is winner of four 2014 Tony Awards and won Best Musical Revival by the Tony Awards, the Drama Desk Awards, Drama League Awards, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Diggs shared he most connects with Hedwig because of “The idea of ‘on the outside,’ ‘on the outskirts,’ the idea of feeling some kind of way about yourself and then coming to terms with accepting and loving yourself and then how that affects how you interact with others.”
When asked what he will bring that’s unique to Hedwig, Diggs reflected, “I think it’s less about the actors and more about the show and how brilliant the show is, where you can’t help but infuse a little something that is of you. They give you a certain amount of freedom, but then at the same time the work, the words, the music, the wardrobe, the set design – all of that is brilliant – it kind of just does itself.”
Diggs discussed how excited he is to be returning to broadway and explained why this was the right project. “It’s so many things at the end of the day. It’s exciting. I’m anxious, I’m petrified, I’m humbled, I’m prideful. This came together with the most magical combination of me being off from my TV gig, me wanting to come back to the city and my son and my son’s mother being in New York, me wanting to return to theater and really participate in a role that I feel was worthy of what I love doing which is singing, acting, and dancing, and you take all that and multiply it times a million and that’s the role of Hedwig. I had no idea I would ever be so lucky/crazy enough to take on this role. I’m also just proud of myself, it’s a once in a lifetime role and a life changing role so I’m proud of myself for opening up and diving in regardless of the fear.”
When asked if he reached out to some of the previous actors who played Hedwig for advice, he said, “I’m gonna wait until I have more context … until I know more of the show, then I’ll be able to take the specifics and apply them. I didn’t wanna ask too many questions too early because I then wouldn’t know what they were talking about. Now I do, so once those floodgates open, it’ll be hard to plug it back up.”
Diggs will play the title role in the acclaimed musical for a limited 12-week engagement starting Wednesday, July 22 at the Belasco Theatre (111 West 44th Street). The Grammy nominated Original Broadway Cast album for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is available from Atlantic Records.