ESCONDIDO — Patio Playhouse is kicking off its production tonight of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” an award-winning cult rock musical starring a genderqueer East German rock ‘n’ roll star touring the United States with her band.
The theater’s performance starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14, and runs for several weeks.
The musical is based on a book by John Cameron Mitchell and features music and lyrics by Stephen Trask. The story of Hedwig, played by both Amanda Blair and Shaun Lim in alternating performances, takes place in East Berlin.
Hedwig decides to leave the communist stronghold with her love interest Luther Robinson, an American soldier, who eventually convinces Hedwig to undergo a sex-change operation.
When the procedure is unfortunately bungled, leaving Hedwig with just “an angry inch,” Hedwig finds herself abandoned at a trailer park in Kansas, where she meets Tommy, the musician who steals her heart — and her songs.
Tommy achieves rock star status and embarks on a world tour while Hedwig finds herself again shoved aside. Unwilling to rest with this fate, she begins stalking Tommy’s tour and performing at TGI Fridays restaurants adjacent to Tommy’s performance venues.
The show follows Hedwig and her husband, Yitzhak, a Jewish drag queen, and is an exploration of identity and personal power.
“‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ is something I’ve wanted to do for years,” said Matt FitzGerald, artistic director at Patio Playhouse. “There was always a question of whether our audience would be ready for it. As it has become a topic of national discussion, I thought it was important to shine a light on the work of early genderqueer artists and activists.
“The topics in Hedwig seem so ‘of the moment’ that it’s easy to forget that the writers were creating and performing this show more than 20 years ago. We couldn’t be more excited to finally have the opportunity to produce this show.”
The playhouse’s production of the musical stars dual casts on alternating weekends, along with band members Jerrica Ignacio as Skszp (piano), Matt FitzGerald as Jacek (bass), Andrew Snyder as Krzyzhtoff (guitar), and Chris Potente as Schlatko (drums).
The play is directed by Juztine Tuazon, produced by Tim Arends and Matt FitzGerald, with music direction by Jerrica Ignacio and choreography by Audrey Ward.
Performances of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” continue through Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at Patio Playhouse Theater in Escondido. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, military, and students, and $12 for youth 16 and under. Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more. For reservations, contact the Patio Playhouse box office at (760) 746-6669, via e-mail, or at patioplayhouse.com.