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Gay Iconography: Flipping Our Wigs For 'Hedwig' Creator John Cameron Mitchell

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With Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway receiving rave reviews, there’s plenty of praise being heaped on star Neil Patrick Harris; but what of Hedwig originator, queer writer, director and filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell? One wonders how he would wear the mantle of gay icon. Would he be comfortable being tasked as a representative of the gay community?

“I get a little homophobic lately when I meet young people who just assume that this is what you’re supposed to be because you’re gay,” he told The Advocate in 2011. “It makes me feel like I’m in some sort of frat society where you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to listen to that, you’ve got to wear these clothes.”

But it’s that non-conformist streak that makes him all the more vital. Just ask his friend, and author of The Trouble With Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life, Michael Warner: “He is an icon of outspokenness, hope, and humor,” Warner said in a NY Magazine profile of Mitchell in 2006. “The people who respond to John tend to be ... people outside the middle class who don’t see themselves in the image of Will & Grace.”

His career has spanned stage (in addition to Hedwig, he earned an Obie Award and Drama Desk nomination for his work in the sequel to Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, The Destiny of Me), television and, oddly enough, voicing Sydney, the kangaroo mascot for Dunk-A-Roos. Then there’s his film work, where he’s brilliantly pushed boundaries and told powerful stories that speak to experiences -- gay, straight and otherwise.

See some of our favorite Mitchell moments, and share your own in the comments, AFTER THE JUMP

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'GMA' Goes Behind-the-Scenes of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' with Neil Patrick Harris: VIDEO

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GMA talks with composer Stephen Trask and creator and originator John Cameron Mitchell, actress Lena Hall, and Neil Patrick Harris about the Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch which opens this month

Harris says he's becoming "manorexic" in watching his weight over the transformation but says what gives him the most enjoyment is seeing the "journey" taken by audience members during the production:

"For me, it's fun to play Hedwig and start the show with a lot of people kind of quizzically staring at me and thinking it's for shock value and by the end feeling like they're united with her."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "'GMA' Goes Behind-the-Scenes of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' with Neil Patrick Harris: VIDEO" »


First Look: Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig (and the Angry Inch)

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Neil Patrick Harris is coming to Broadway in April in John Cameron Mitchell's musical about a rock and roll band fronted by a trans singer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and producers released the first image of NPH in character today.

Said Harris in June: "I am simultaneously ecstatic and terrified to be stepping into Hedwig's heels. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime role and I can't wait to begin the journey."


Neil Patrick Harris to Star in Broadway Premiere of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch'

Neil Patrick Harris is set to take on the title role in John Cameron Mitchell's 1998 musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch when it premieres on Broadway in Spring 2014, Playbill reports:

Tonys_nph"I am simultaneously ecstatic and terrified to be stepping into Hedwig's heels," Harris said in a statement. "It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime role and I can't wait to begin the journey."

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a musical comedy about a fictional rock 'n' roll band fronted by a transgender singer. The production began Off Off-Broadway at Westbeth and then ran over two years at the Jane Street Theatre beginning in February 1998. The musical won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical, and both John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask won Obies. Hedwig and the Angry Inch won a 1998 New York Magazine Award and Entertainment Weekly's "Soundtrack of the Year" Award.

David Binder and Jayne Baron Sherman are producing. 101 Productions, Ltd are the executive producers.


John Cameron Mitchell Says 'Hedwig' Sequel in Progress, Will Reprise Role in Provincetown

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Kevin Sessums had coffee with John Cameron Mitchell this week who told him all about the sequel he's working on to Hedwig and The Angry Inch. He's also going to reprise his role on September 16th at a special performance at this year's Afterglow Festival in Provincetown, Massachusetts. And now Kevin's teasing us on his Tumblr:

He then went on to tell me in detail the narrative of the sequel for which Hedwig's original composer Stephen Trask will write the music once more. There was such sweet excitement in his voice as he told me scene after scene, much like the sweetness and excitement he first had when so many years ago we sat in another coffee shop and he shyly admitted he was writing the role of a transgendered rock'n'roller so he could play it himself."

Adds Sessums:

I'll never forget the night I first saw him perform Hedwig in one of those first performances of the show at the theatre at Westbeth. I had never seen that side of John. Hell, I'd never even seen him with a wig on. But he was able to combine his innate sweetness with Hedwig's hellacious swagger to create one of the most original theatrical characters I had ever seen. He bowled me over and broke my heart all at the same time. His brilliance that night still burns in my memory.

As for the sequel? Let's just say it's something that could only happen to Hedwig - a phantasmagoria with dollops of brutal reality interwoven into its multi-media narrative.

Said Mitchell about the new Hedwig plot: "We spend so much of our early lives trying to figure out who we really are. And we spend the rest of our lives preparing ourselves to let it go."


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