March 25, 2011 in Features

The return of ‘Hedwig’

Simons stars in, produces and directs glam punk-rock musical
By The Spokesman-Review
If you go

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” Live

When:  Thursday through April 2

Where: A Club, 416 W. Sprague Ave.

Tickets: $12/advance, through; $15/door

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” isn’t your typical love story.

This punk-rock musical tells the tale of how a boy from communist East Berlin came to become an “internationally ignored” transgender rocker living in the shadow of her ex-boyfriend/bandmate who stole her songs.

Originally written and directed for stage and screen by John Cameron Mitchell (“Rabbit Hole,” “Shortbus”), it was performed by a group of local thespians in Spokane four years ago.

The group is bringing the production back for a three-night run beginning Thursday at A Club, 416 W. Sprague Ave.

Returning to the role of Hedwig Schmitt is Dylan Rock Simons, who starred in the 2007 production. But now Simons is taking the wheel, also serving as producer and director.

After the success of the 2007 run, Simons feels confident in his ability to star as well as steer this time around.

One of the most daunting aspects of donning the head wig the first time was the uncertainty of how the Spokane community would respond, especially the gay community, he said.

“I was shaking in my boots last time,” Simons said. “I didn’t know how receptive the community was going to be.

“There’s a strong homosexual community in Spokane and I wasn’t sure they were going to get behind the role of Hedwig being played by a breeder – that’s a term for a straight person – but we saw many faces at each and every performance and a couple of people caught me after the show and thanked me and seemed grateful.”

Now his stresses have shifted to behind the scenes.

“I got as many people from the last project that were still around as I could, but the director, Tessa Gregory, moved to Seattle. I’m familiar with the play so I decided to give it a go and take the whole kit and caboodle,” said the 26-year-old actor, who’s making his directorial debut.

“It’s stressful because I have to spread thin. Honestly, there’s a lot of legwork, and I still have to find the time to memorize and rehearse my lines.”

With the musical presented essentially as a rock concert with dialogue, Simons is joined by a small cast of players, including band members Ben Emery on bass and Matt Bogue on drums (of the local group Monuments) and Drew Baker on guitar (formerly of Mourning After), along with local photographer Kristen Black, who stars as Hedwig’s husband/bandmate, Yitzhak.

The easiest part of directing, Simons said, is directing himself.

“It has been more freeing because I see me in myself instead of someone else seeing in me,” he said. “I see my vision and I know what I’m going for and what I’m capable of. And I don’t have to do what someone else says.”

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