Four Times Darren Criss Had Us LIVING at Hedwig and the Angry Inch
[Update: Darren Criss will reprise the role of Hedwig on tour at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco (Oct. 4-30, 2016) and the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles (Nov. 1-27).]
It's your final week to see Glee and How to Succeed alum Darren Criss headline the Tony Award-winning revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
1. The Transformation of Tommy Gnosis
The best thing about seeing all five B'way Hedwigs is watching how each one shines in different moments, bringing something new to scenes that otherwise seemed set in stone. For Darren Criss, the alter-ego character of rock star Tommy Gnosis is the revelation. He grows the character from a really awkward, insecure kid who could barely make eye contact in those first scenes to a young man on the verge of self discovery in the trailer scene and finally a fully fledged rock star (with a heart) in “Wicked Little Town Reprise”, and it's breathtaking.
2. “Midnight Radio”
Criss brings a simplicity and a passion to the final number of the show that calls to mind a cathartic confession. Don't worry though, the joy and euphoria is still there but in Criss' hands the transition from the heavy moment before to the grand finale is pretty seamless.
3. “Angry Inch”
Another big song, another Criss triumph. Watching Darren Criss during the all-out rock songs of the show (“Angry Inch” “Tear Me Down” “Sugar Daddy” “Exquisite Corpse”) you understand this character's frustration—Criss' Hedwig is a rock star who didn't break through but somehow her a-hole ex, who she taught everything to, did. Girl, I'd be pissed as hell too.
4. The Audience Interactions
The crowd is there to see him, and he's having a ball with them. The ad-libs are fresh and funny; for much of the audience, Criss is their introduction to the show so the energy in the theatre is eager and excited (even the most seasoned Hedhead will feel like a virgin again). And during the curtain call—at least at the performance I attended—Criss had this wonderful moment acknowledging each of the audience members Hedwig terrorized; it was so sweet.
See Darren Criss as Hedwig at the Belasco Theatre through July 19.