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Teutonic Tranny Rocker 

Hedwig sets up in an honest-to-goodness rock club

Strap on your glittery platform heels and secure that blonde Farrah wig, ladies and gentlemen. The hot transsexual singer Hedwig is gripping a mic in her manicured hand, and she's ready to rip.  

This new version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (text by John Cameron Mitchell, music and lyrics by Stephen Trask) features lead performers from the triumphant Hedwig that ran at Cleveland Public Theater eight years ago. But this production has been remounted and relocated to a highly appropriate rock venue, the Hi-Fi Concert Club, where it opens on Friday. 

Dan Folino again stars as Hedwig, the East German transgendered singer — a performance which won him the 2002 "Best Actor" nod from Scene. Hedwig's glam-punk band, the Angry Inch, is named for his egregiously botched sex-change operation — the "angry inch" being the scar left behind, not the offending member itself.

The new venue adds a fresh level of depth. As director Alison Garrigan — who also plays band member Yitzhak — explains, "By doing the show in a smaller room, there is less emphasis on theatrical spectacle and more focus on the characters and what they're going through." 

Moreover, the Hi-Fi is precisely the kind of place Hedwig and his group were supposed to be playing. "You've got people coming in who are expecting to hear a performance at a rock club," says Garrigan. "The set for the show is the club itself, with its lighting and ambiance. So this helps to align reality with art." 

For Folino, revisiting Hedwig is an interesting task. Even though he has done several other roles multiple times, sometimes reluctantly, Hedwig is different, he says. "Now that a few years have passed by since we did the show, Hedwig's quest for 'the missing half' takes on even more meaning. The script is closer to where my heart is now, so it feels less like acting." 

The club location poses an acoustic challenge for the band, which includes music director Dennis Yurich as guitarist Skszp, bass player Derek Poindexter, guitarist Brian Hager and drummer Jason Giaco. "In musicals, the lyrics are really important; they move the story forward," says Folino. "So we have to be sure the words can be heard and understood, even with the rock music." 

Most important, the journey that Hedwig and all the players take still resonates. "It speaks to the quest everyone has to be complete, to be whole," says Garrigan. "So often we try to find that solution in another person rather than in ourselves." 

And this show grapples with that idea, to an intense and irresistible rock beat.

arts@clevescene.com

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