As Dorothy Massey who plays Yitzhak and Brian Thompson who plays Hedwig sat on the tailgate of the van filled with costumes, Dorothy lamented that the show had a hard run. Some nights they had performed with only 3 people in the audience. The night before closing night they had 15 people. They always gave their all regardless.
After sketching back stage, I settled in at the back of the small Majestic Theatre and Lounge inside the Revolution Nightclub (375 South Bumby Avenue). It is actually the perfect venue for the show, being small and intimate with flaming touches of gold opulence. Hedwig is a Punk Rock princess in search of someone to complete herself, her other half. In search of validation and love, Hedwig had an operation in Germany that left him with an angry inch to express her sexuality. A small group of tattooed punk teens filled the front row. They shouted and talked on their cell phones. Hedwig shouted back, "You came here to see ME, darlings!" I thought they were part of the show at first, but Ally Gursky confided that they slipped in late without paying. They were gone by the second act.
Hedwig treated Yitak as his male side kick whom he berated and joked about as he talked about Tommy Gnosis, a boy he loved who went on to become a rock super star with the songs Hedwig helped him write. Dorothy as Yitzak was sullen and angry for most of the show. When Hedwig stripped off his woman's clothing standing naked and sweating before the audience they went wild, over his song of acceptance and affirmation. We all hide a part of our true selves but he finally realized he needed to love himself before he could find acceptance and love from someone else.
Dorothy came out, this time dressed in a bright pink form fitting sequin gown and a blond wig. She sang Midnight Radio, a song of love, joy and acceptance. The room filled with an awe inspiring energy. Everyone raised their hands, waving them above their heads. Tears rolled down Dorothy's cheeks as she sang. I turned to look at Director, Tara Corless, who was aiming the huge theater spot light. She was in tears as well. Ally was rushing down the isles with her hands raised and beaming. The audience was on fire. This was not your average performance. This was an overwhelming emotional catharsis on the closing night of the show. I was swept along with tears of joy and I put down my brush and raised my hands to clap loudly. After the show Tara got on stage to thank the audience. She got choked up as she said, "We've had a tough run, but you were the audience this show deserved." A performance like this affirms the absolute undefinable magic of theater when an audience and cast are one.
On the flag: Johannesburg sketcher Cathy Gatland sketching outside Kippies Jazz Club in Newtown.
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