frankfurt: hedwig and the angry inch
i told you before, i was in frankfurt and saw an amazing musical called: hedwig and the angry inch. well, i had the opportunity to ask the producer and actor of same hedwig, nigel francis, a few questions. which he was more than willing to answer.
so, see and read for yourself:
1.you are originally from great britain. how and why do you came to frankfurt?
I originally came to Frankfurt at the end of 1990 to work on a musical called A Slice of Saturday Night, for the English Theatre Company. I returned again in 2004 to play the Emcee in Kander and Ebbs musical Cabaret. It was during this time that I met my partner Angela. We eventually got together in the summer of 2006 and after about two years of us both travelling to London and Frankfurt, we decided that we wanted to be together on a more permanent basis, so I moved to Frankfurt to give it a go, I'm still here, so we must be doing something right.
2.why do you want to produce "hedwig" and what's so fascinating about it?
I was first introduced to Hedwig about four years ago. A good friend of mine, gave me a copy of the soundtrack, which I didn't touch for at least a couple of weeks. Then one day, when I had nothing better to do, I decided to give it a listen. From the very first spoken words of Yitzhak, to the last notes of Midnight Radio, I was hooked. I was then lucky enough to see a production of the show when I was visiting my parents in my home town of Coventry, seeing that performance ultimately change my life. I remember thinking that I had seen something really special that evening. I have only ever had that a couple of times in the theatre. I couldn't stop talking about the show to whoever would listen.
What I find most fascinating about Hedwig is that it talks openly and honestly about real issues, real situations and real emotions, emotions that each and everyone one of us can relate to on some level. Many people who have not yet seen Hedwig ultimately think that it's a show about a Drag Queen, these people couldn't be more wrong. What I have found from talking to people after the show, is that there is a little bit of Hedwig in us all. For example, we all know what it feels like to be in love. We all know what it feels like to be in love with someone that doesn't necessarily love us in return. We all know how it feels to be let down by our family or friends. We all know what it's like to not fit in. Some of us might know what it's like to risk and sacrifice everything you have for freedom, so Hedwig isn't that different from any of us really, we all have something in common with her and the story she has to tell. I like to think that is what myself and 80 other Hedwig virgins felt that night when we all sat together in that little theatre in Coventry, laughing, crying and singing along with the East German rock goddess. When you have the power to move people in that way, with the words of a brilliant script and the music of eleven fantastically written songs, as a producer, you can't help yourself, you just have to put the show on.
3.is it hard to play this character?
Personally I think the character of Hedwig is really hard to play, not only physically but mentally. It's a character that is really complex and one that has many different layers.
It would be so easy to play the role as a caricature with very little regard for who Hedwig is, what she has gone through and where she has come from. This part deserves as much respect as any of the great shakespearean roles and if I am playing any of the great classical parts, I would approach them in exactly the same way as I do Hedwig.
When I first read the script, the first thing that struck me was how deep and emotional the play was, it wasn't just camp, crass jokes mixed in with some rock songs, it had substance and that was something that I wanted to get across to the audience. I've played Hedwig about thirty times now and it still feels very new to me, i think if I play her another 300 times, there will still be something new to find. If I ever get to the stage where I'm not finding anything new about her, then that will be the time to give the gorgeous blonde wig to someone else.
4.are you satisfied with how it turns ou?
I'm very proud of this production, mainly because it's the first that I have produced with my own production company. Having done this once, you really appreciate what it takes to get a show on.
I've seen this production grow so much over the last years, from telling friends that I want to produce this play, sitting down at the first meetings, choosing poster designs, rehearsals with the cast, first night premiere and first night press reviews, which were all great, so from that point of view I'm very satisfied with what we have achieved. From the performance side, I love what we have created but the people who work closely with me on this production will tell you that I'm never 100% satisfied, I think it's actually a bit of an illness with me. It can always be better and I'm always looking at ways to improve the show.
5.how does the audience respond to your show?
The audience response has been fantastic. It's always been very difficult to convince people to come and see this show. Even the original production on Broadway took forever to get people in, but once they are in the theatre I genuinely taken in by the show. I don't think they expect to see what then see and I think that is one of the great things about Hedwig, you come out after two hours surprised and hopefully moved in some way by the show.
6.do you have a special routine to get into the character?
I don't really have any special routine. On the day of the show, I start to warm up quite early, just taking it easy. I run a few lines, do a little physical warm-up and then when I get into the theatre as the time of the show get nearer I start to get a little quite, just thinking about what I have to do for the next couple of hours. I defiantly feel a change in my character, I'm normally quite chilled out but as show time approaches, I find myself getting more serious and very Hedwig-like. That's about it.
7. will you/are there any plans to tour with "hedwig"?
I would love Hedwig to go out on tour one day. There are some talks going on at the moment about the possibility.
People have said to me on many occasions that the show would do really well in places like Köln, Berlin and Hamburg so we just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope that the theatre gods shine down on this little production and we see it on the road some day. I'd also like to take it back to London on day.
thanks again mr. nigel francis. and i surely would like to see you and hedwig here in berlin!
well, if you are curious about this wonderful man, his work and (of curse!) hedwig: watch it! it is a wonderful, thrilling piece of music, art and love. and it will be on this very weekend!!! so buy your tickets and go! and if you still need something to convince you here's a little scene from the movie (which i also highly recommend to you)
for further information: hedwigandtheangryinch or myspace
the pictures are from: facebook(1, 3) and the hedwig and the angry inch site (2).