The final performance for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” starring Taye Diggs will be September 13. 

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Be sure to get your tickets! Before Taye joined the show, we had the opportunity to speak with the show’s creator and composer in addition to one of the stars Rebecca Naomi Jones. Read what they had to say below about “Hedwig’s” cultural significance.

Rebecca Naomi Jones


So how has the run been so far?

It’s been great. It’s been really exciting for me because the wives keep changing so I get to have a new show every little bit of time which is really fun. And I’ve gotten to watch Darren Criss from start to eventual finish and it’s been really cool to watch his process as I had had a couple weeks with John Cameron Mitchell before Darren’s entrance. So I sort of was a little bit more settled in than he was. Plus my role is smaller. So it’s been really nice to have that sort of backseat and watch him sort of grow in the role and explore and find new things. So it’s just gotten more and more fun as he’s gotten to have more fun.

What was it like working with Darren?

So Fun! He’s a blast. He’s really excited and enthusiastic about the work which is really cool. You know he doesn’t take it for granted. He loves the role. He loves the process. He loves this show. In fact he’s starting to get a little sad about having to leave. We’re having a blast especially right now in fact because he’s starting to play more a lot on stage and laughing more. We’re having a really nice time.

Tell me how you’re connecting with Tay?

Response: But he’s such a lovely man and very relaxed and chill and smart. He’s really easy to talk to. And then we just met again today and yeah. I’m having a really nice time with him.

When the actors switch do you feel like your connections to the characters switch at all?

Response: Yeah, I mean I’ve only had it so far just once because I had John and then Darren. I told people it felt a little different, like a morning period. It’s really strange to get really attached to someone’s energy and the specific relationship you have created with that actor and then suddenly that breaks. So it’s like wait, I have to rebuild this whole thing … But in a way it’s almost like you divorced this person who you had this whole partnership with and you have to force a new partnership with a new person. But now hopefully since I’ve done it once it’ll be easier this time. Of course I’m super excited to work with Taye.

What do you connect most with your character Yitzhak?

Well I think he really loves music and he loves to perform. He loves rock and roll. Yitzhak also really does want to love and be loved. So I really get that in a character, he wants to work hard and he has a really hard life but he also does believe in love and wants to be loved. So I connect with that of course 100%.

Did Lena Hall give you any advice or did you get to meet Lina?

Yeah absolutely. She just was really good about reminding me how you have to just be on your toes the whole time because there are just wires everywhere, cables flying. Hedwig can get caught or trapped in a wire all the time or trip over a wire. So you just have to be ready at any time to just like fix that. You have to really remember to be the “rodie” in the show. So that’s an element that’s been good to have a heads up on.

Can you speak a little bit about your character’s journey?

Yitzhak is sort of in this trapped position with Hedwig. He’s made this sort of arrangement in this marriage. You know to be an American, to be married to Hedwig but that means he’s sort of Hedwig’s lackey and roady and has to abide by the rules that Hedwig sets. And that means not really being able to be his true self. He’s sort of trapped inside himself and that’s really horrible and he’s sort of abused the whole show. But he does find little respite in the bits of performing he gets to do and the little nuggets of love that Hedwig shows him which are immediately snatched away and beaten down. But then as Hedwig goes through her journey of self-discovery within the show, she frees Yitzhak from his entrapment as well. So it’s kind of a beautiful journey for Yitzhak but in sort of a more muted color.


Stephen Trask

You’re the original composer of the music for this show, so speak about the cultural significance. 

For the lyrics, I was trying to introduce this idea of breaking down dichotomies. Like in the opening song, the spoken section that Yitzhak has compares Hedwig to the Berlin Wall, and both in the middle of that spoken section—now that the wall is gone we don’t know who we are anymore, that people somehow need these divisions. Man and woman, I am a man or I am a woman, or I am a communist or I am a capitalist, or whatever to help define themselves. And the song poses the idea that we shouldn’t embrace those dichotomies to define ourselves, and that maybe Hedwig by being kind of neither man nor woman, because she has ambiguous genitalia although she presents as a woman the whole show, but by being that person maybe she can turn that wall into a bridge that unites the two halves and allows us to be whole and embrace those aspects of ourselves that are opposite. Over the course of the show, Hedwig comes to realize that she is not defined by her genitals; that if she chooses to have a gender identity it has nothing to do with what is between her legs, it has to do with where her heart is and where her head is, and she embraces that and asks other people to embrace that too. So, proposing that in 1998 and having a show built around that in 1998 was kind of a little bit ahead of the curve. I don’t know if people come in thinking that, but I think people are open to that concept; not to define themselves by which side of whatever divide it is they find themselves falling, in particular with gender, but also American versus German, or capitalist versus communist. By not basing your own self identity around those divisions, you can also then break down those divisions between us, and you find that if I am not defined by which side of those divides that I myself fall on, then all of a sudden that divide between me and this other person, or me and this other country, or me and this other concept, that also falls down, and that people are then united across these.


It’s a really big deal that it’s an all black cast, do you want to talk about the cultural significance of that on top of everything you just said?


Part of me thinks it’s almost egotistical to think it’s culturally significant because then I have to think of my own work as culturally significant enough for it to matter that it’s an all-black cast. That said, it is unique for us, and it’s a real thing because there’s not a lot of established shows, I mean we are a Tony award-winning revival, that is we are part of the American cannon and we did that. And they’re not just black actors, but it’s like an all-black cast of “Fiddler,” like one of them is from eastern Europe and one of them is from Germany. That said, Rebecca’s mom is an eastern European Jew, like it happens to be very personal, and Hedwig’s dad is an American GI. From a story perspective, there is no actual stretch—it just happens. And it’s a big deal in that – I went to see “Hamilton” and you go and you sit there and at first you might notice that you have this incredible racial diversity of people playing the Founding Fathers and their cohorts or whatever, and you just go there. And then you have Hamilton’s fiancée or wife, and her sister, one is black and one is white, and you look at that and you’re just like, “you know, I could go see Antigone and I don’t go ‘those people don’t look Greek’, and I can go see Shakespeare and I don’t go ‘those people don’t look Danish’”. And watching that show, the entire concept of race kind of was obliterated. So then this, it feels extremely factual. It’s almost normal and yet I know it does read as a big deal. The thing I’m mostly focused on is what I focused on the first time I saw Rebecca do Yitzhak, which is “holy crap listen to her sing that song, and look at how sad and downtrodden her Yitzhak is”. With Taye, I focus on what he sounds like when he sings these songs, and we’ve reworked all these songs around his voice since he sings in a different range, and they sound refreshed, gorgeous, and his voice just sits in them perfectly because every part of it is being played by every instrument which is built around him. And so that’s what I really think about, but I know out in the world it reads as a special message.

John Cameron Mitchell

So you wrote the show a long time ago now. The significance of Hedwig today kind of resonates with more people than it did almost twenty years ago. When you originally made it did you kind of think about what it’d mean to the world and not just a story? Did you think it would eventually have this major impact you know politically, socially, culturally?

No I really didn’t. You know my favorite things tend to come out of kind of a closet I guess. You know come out of a dark place where you don’t necessarily have a lot of eyes on it. I mean today is different- I don’t know if it’d been done today in the same way because there’s too much information floating around. There’s too many things being documented. If I had somebody’s cell phone tape my first gig and put it online, I probably wouldn’t have continued it because it was raw, it was rough. So the user comment YouTube culture I think is stopping people from taking their time. You know I don’t think things are ready to be seen for a few years. People throw it out when it’s half done and they get a mean comment and they stop. So it came out of a pure place in the 90s. It came out of a drag/Rock and Roll sub-culture club called Squeezebox where I was watching these drag queens having never done drag but being a Broadway actor and learning from this – from rock and roll, from stand-up, from drag and putting – Steve and I putting all of our favorite things together in a traditional story. So when people say there’s nothing original anymore and young people feel a little bit tired and they say it’s all been done, it’s like it hasn’t been done by you. You know when the Beatles covered The Isly Brothers doing “Twist and Shout” it didn’t sound like the Isly Brothers but it sounded like the Beatles and it was great. You know that is original so I really want to encourage a lot of people – young people today who feel paralyzed who are smart to turn the Internet off for a while and don’t document stuff. Keep it small, keep your friends together and don’t blast it out till you’re ready because the specificity of Hedwig which seems so weird and other is trustable. You know when you see someone and they look like everyone else, sometimes you don’t really trust that they’re real. When someone is so specific – And even as someone you don’t have that much in common with- Hedwig is so specific that many people think must be based on a real person. You know so maybe that story has something that I can relate to because I can trust the path, not that I’ve been there, but I can trust that it has happened.

How does it feel to have Taye step into Hedwig’s shoes?

 Heels. I went lower being the elderly. The oldest of them all. He’s building back up again because he’s got that incredible body. I am so thrilled. I met him just at a party. He’s one of those people that’s just kind of blinding in his presence. Some people use that as a weapon or a shield. He’s grateful and cuts through the shield which is like hey you know that’s what Hedwig needs. We’ve had Hedwigs that I’ve seen hide behind the drag and are fabulous but aren’t necessarily looking directly at that audience member and saying I am you. I may not look like you but especially – Midnight Radio which is a song of his that always makes me cry he sings, “I am you. We are all strange Rock n’ Rollers and we’re doing okay. If we can just hold onto each other we’ll make it.” And it’s these 70s lyrics that really work. Hearing him talk about it that way really makes my so psyched to see what he’s going to do. I already know he can sing, dance, act and look good. But there’s a beautiful big heart under that incredible chest.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling do you think Hedwig will improv with that or play around with that at all?

Everything is fair game for Hedwig to talk about whatever is going on. God knows I took advantage of that when I did it. Every actor has jokes that are passed on to the next. You know, I came up with the James Franco joke, which changed “all the privileges of homosexuality and none of the responsibilities.” So that just sort of came up and now that’s part of the show. So he will be doing the same. Interestingly every character is now Black in Hedwig because he’s playing Tommy so Tommy the rock star is also Black. Luther Robinson his first lover, the only one that isn’t is Hedwig’s mom. German. Yitzhak is. It’s like there’s no need to really comment on everything. That’s what it is right now and eventually we will have people of all genders playing Hedwig, have trans people play it, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is Hedwig and I love that.