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Under the Influence

We examine the influences informing the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch

As far as transgender superheroes are concerned, Lou Reed only nicked the surface. The musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch cuts much deeper, drawing on all manner of inspiration in its story of an East Berlin boy–turned–Kansas trailer park pop princess. We examine the influences informing the glam-rock saga.

GO: Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Apr 9–May 17. $35-$40. American Theater Company, 1909 W Byron. atcweb.org

GREEK PHILOSOPHER PLATO
The power ballad “The Origin of Love”
Plato’s Symposium describes how ancient humans were perfect, two-headed beings until Zeus split everyone in two, forcing all mortals to spend their lives searching for their other half. Hedwig’s signature song tells the story in five verses.

 

GERMAN PHILOSOPHER IMMANUEL KANT
Standup shtick
Performing in a dive bar, Hedwig recounts being fired from a teaching gig after giving a lecture titled “You Kant Always Get What You Want.”

 

 

THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS
Hedwig’s lover, Tommy Gnosis
Tommy opines that Eve’s only sin was the desire for knowledge, and she shouldn’t be blamed for man’s downfall. Some biblical scholars claim this view is found in Lost Gospels by the likes of Mary Magdalene.

 

DAVID BOWIE
Hedwig
The author of such lyrics as “You’ve got your mother in a whirl / ’Cause she’s not sure / If you’re a boy or a girl” coproduced the California staging of Hedwig, whose title character is himself an homage to Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.

 

Photography: (Bowie) RCA Records, (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) New Line Productions, Inc.

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