Pollard Theatre brings edgy, provocative "Hedwig" to Guthrie

Matthew Alvin Brown stars in Pollard’s “Hedwig.” Photo provided.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the musical tale of a haughty yet haunted transsexual punk rocker, might sound like an odd fit for Guthrie’s Pollard Theatre Company. The journey to bring this “slip of a girly boy from Communist East Berlin” to life in Guthrie has been long and fraught but now the Pollard’s Hedwig promises audiences a rock “musical” happening like nothing they’ve ever experienced.

Created by actor John Cameron Mitchell and composer Stephen Trask, Hedwig garnered national headlines for making its Tony award winning Broadway debut in 2014 starring Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall.

Pollard Theatre Producing Artistic Director W. Jerome Stevenson and the Pollard have earned a reputation for balancing the entertaining with the provocative while proving a steadfast commitment to diversity – in programming and casting. Stevenson, who had long been fascinated with Hedwig, considered when the show might be right for Pollard audiences.

“It’s a sophisticated show. It’s complex, ‘edgy’ and, to some, even controversial. It’s nearly twenty years old but it still pushes past common understanding of sexual identity – which can frighten some audiences to the point of disconnect,” commented Stevenson.

With the critical success of Pollard productions like Passing Strange and American Idiot and a growing appetite for alternative titles, Stevenson had a renewed desire, not only to produce the show but, to helm the production himself.

In the Oklahoma City theatre community, Hedwig is synonymous with one name; Matthew Alvin Brown. Together with Renee Anderson in the role of Yitzhak, Brown has headlined three productions of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

“I felt it was essential that Matt and Renee be a part of the production, but our discussions led us to the idea that after 16 years we had an opportunity to pass the torch on to a new generation of performers,” Stevenson remarked.

Stevenson and Brown are working as co-directors on the project. The Pollard Theatre Company is producing the piece in association with Tulsa Project Theatre.

After a rigorous audition process, Pollard company member Jared Blount and Dallas based actress Beth Lipton were set to star in the show bringing Hedwig and the Angry Inch to a new generation of fans.

“Matt and Renee know this play so well and yet they’ve engaged in the process with fresh eyes. They’re committed to telling this version of the story and it’s absolutely inspiring and freeing,” Blount said. “I can’t wait for the audiences to experience our show. It’s raw and beautiful; hysterical and, at times, downright painful.

“She [Hedwig] is like no character I’ve ever experienced and, I’m hoping, the audiences will see a little of themselves in her. That’s good theatre right there,” Blount beamed.

The Pollard’s creative team includes Musical Director Jason Hunt, Scenic Designer James A. Hughes and Costumer Designer Joshua McGowen with Stevenson and Blount creating the lighting and sound designs respectively.

The Pollard production of Hedwig and The Angry Inch opens October 13 and runs through Oct. 28. Tickets are available online at www.thepollard.org, by calling (405) 282-2800 or in person at 120 W. Harrison, Guthrie OK.

Copyright The Gayly – October 5, 2017 @ 12:35 p.m. CDT.