Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Houston Gets Some Hed, Part 6: Suddenly, I'm This Punk-Rock Star Of Stage & Screen

It was the night before our "press preview" night, when we would unveil the show to Houston's media. Jef had, wisely, given us the night off. For two weeks straight, we had rehearsed non-stop on the stage upstairs at Fitzgerald's. Our pleas to be allowed to practice on the actual stage we were assigned to had fallen on deaf ears. We just couldn't get the staff to understand that we weren't just like any other band. Concepts like blocking were foreign to them, as they'd never dealt with a play before. I cannot say that they weren't supportive, as they provided us with our own storage closet, and rigged us a "backstage" area to change in. They just didn't grasp the needs that a production like this required. As I lie in bed, on the eve of us playing to a live audience, a sense of nervous apprehension crept in.
Our press night was on a Thursday, just prior to our official opening night. I left work, hurried to Towhee's to get my makeup done, and then rushed to the venue. This would become my regular Friday night ritual, with work and Houston traffic causing the whole affair to be frantic. Towhee, I found to be a quite pleasant person. She was a college student, and quite good with the makeup. I enjoyed listening to her tales of college life and clubbing while she painted my face in glittery swaths of color that would make Ziggy Stardust jealous. Driving to the venue was always amusing, as I got very interesting looks from folks. Most men would quickly look away when I made eye contact, young women would smile and wave, and old ladies would stare in disgust. Obviously gay men would cheer and blow kisses. The guys at the convenience store across from Fitz just asked me if I was playing with a band, acting like they'd pretty much seen it all. Back stage, the mood was one of pure angst. We all felt we needed about a week more to rehearse, but we were simply out of time. The press awaited us! I entered the room to the sound of Eric's guitar shredding out a Hendrix-esque "Star Spangled Banner", with me draped in the American flag. In the film and original stage production, Hedwig opens the cape to reveal the words "Yankee go home...With Me!" We changed this to be more fitting of our locale, with the interior now reading "Ride ME, Cowboy". This got a chuckle from the audience... and then the clasp for the cape promptly got snagged in my wig. Lynda had to rush over and unhook the cape, which was now hanging off my wig as I frantically held it onto my head. Things only got worse from there. Our blocking was way off, the band was out of sync, and we were plagued by sound problems. The unfamiliarity with the stage really took its toll, as we were in a much smaller space than before. We had to adjust all of our blocking to fit the stage, which wasn't easy to do while trying to retain composure in front of a live audience. The band couldn't hear each-other, thanks to the fact that our audio mix was completely screwed up. This led to people playing out of sync with one another, basically making us sound like we didn't know what the hell we were doing. Lighting cues were missed, and our video didn't come on when prompted. The sad thing was, we had put in so much hard work over so many months, and here we were coming across as rank amateurs in front of Houston's journalists. Amazingly, we got very little in the way of negative press coverage. In fact, the gay publications were actually quite complimentary. Opening night went far smoother, with many of the technical difficulties being ironed out. Lynda and I had adjusted our blocking accordingly, and the sound guy seemed to work out the kinks in that department. Jef took over the lighting, which greatly improved this aspect of the show. The band, fueled by a desire to make up for the previous night (even though they were hardly to blame), came on with a vengeance. If only the press had seen us this night instead!
One curious thing I noticed about myself is that, as I entered makeup and costume, I got more and more Hedwig-like as curtain got closer. It was almost as if I gradually sank into the character, with her taking me over by show-time. More than one person noted that I became a real bitch in the thirty minutes or so before heading on stage. One night, I ripped Tiny a new one for moving my duct-tape without informing me. The previous night I had almost missed an entrance thanks to one of my props being in the wrong place, so I was overly sensitive about this issue. I was later told that the whole time I was tearing into Tiny, I'd been doing so with my "Hedwig voice". I was berating him in character! We had an amazing team working with us on this show. Tiny's girlfriend (now wife), Mary-Ellen, was backstage to lend a helping hand on most nights. Alongside her was a friend of Lynda & Jef's, who went by the name of Jeff (the second "f" was the distinction). Both would help with costuming, with Mary-Ellen aiding the wigs, and Jeff doing make-up touch-ups. Without the two of them, I honestly don't think the show would have gone as well as it did.
Mid-way through our run, we headed to the River Oaks Theater, for a special cross-promotion set up by Rob. He had booked the film version, and asked us to come in and do a special "pre-show" performance to plug our play. For Lynda, Jef, Tiny and me, it was a strange sense of deja-vu, as the River Oaks is one of the theaters we had performed in the Rocky Horror shadow cast, all those years ago. Here we were, performing at a midnight showing, with me dressed in drag! Thing was, this promo performance was just a few hours after our regular show that night, so Jeff had to completely re-apply all my make-up. It was his first time to do the full make-up, but he did a wonderful job. We performed three songs, "Sugar Daddy", "Origin of Love" and "Angry Inch", from a stage set up in front of a movie screen. The audience seemed to enjoy this rather bizarre form of "pre-show" entertainment. It seemed a success for both the River Oaks and us, as we definitely saw some of the same faces at later performances. Later that night, a few of us went out in costume to various gay clubs to promote the show. The reaction at these venues was incredible, as I was treated like some sort of rock star when I entered!
The show got better with each performance, as the band got tighter and Lynda & I grew more and more into our roles. We noticed that we had very few folks at our Friday and Sunday performances, and packed houses on Saturdays. The 7:00 show-time only seemed to work on Saturdays, as folks were still trying to get home from work on Fridays, and were too dog-tired on Sundays. Still, we put everything we had into each night's production, and we received overwhelming praise from our audience. One Sunday night, I had lost my voice, and Jef had to step into his role as understudy. He did a fantastic job covering for me, and I just want his performance noted here. It was the only time he was able to play the role, but it would later open other doors for him.
Just prior to our closing weekend, tragedy struck when Lynda & Jef's friend, Kat, lost her battle with cancer. Lynda took this especially hard, as Kat was like a sister to her. Lynda wanted to go to her funeral, but was loyal to the show, thus putting her in a rather bad position. I understood her plight completely, so I made a quick phone call to Elaine, and she ditched work that Saturday to cover for Lynda. Elaine arrived Saturday morning, and drilled with me all day on our blocking. By the time she took the stage that night, she performed as if she'd been in the show from the get-go. She stunned everyone with her amazing take on Yitzak.
Our closing night was the Sunday before Memorial Day. We played to our biggest audience yet, with several of our closest friends amongst the crowd. We dedicated this performance to Kat, and Lynda's grief just seemed to fuel her performance. The band never sounded better, with all these weeks finely honing them into one hell of a great rock group. In the front row was Kat's boyfriend, and he seemed to be emotionally swept up in the show. During "Midnight Radio" I made eye contact with him, and the emotion in his face just touched me on such a deep level. Here was someone who had lost the person he was closest to, and here I was singing about loss and new beginnings. I can honestly say that his being there just lit a flame in me that night, and I'll never forget it.
Every night of the show was incredibly emotional, especially throughout "Midnight Radio". In many ways, it was one of the most therapeutic experiences of my life. I had been through a divorce, as well as an up and down relationship with another girl since moving back to Houston, and every night I felt those emotions rise to the top as I took the stage. My emotions were purged through Hedwig, and by the end of the run I felt relieved of many of the pains in my heart. It was a transformative, cathartic experience that words just don't do justice to.
Everyone involved in the show became very dear to my heart. Now, years later, I look back on this production as the best I was ever involved in. The fact that this rag-tag group managed to pull it off is actually quite amazing, and a testament to the power of human willpower. Recently, I've been discussing a possible revival with most of the principal folks. Some folks may not be able to be involved but their spirits will still be a part of this show, even if they aren't physically present. I have no idea when we'll get the show back up and running, but it WILL happen sometime in the future.
The cast of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, clockwise from left: Eric Allen as Krystoff, Tiny Flowers as Shlatko, Dave Gill as Hedwig, Lynda Self as Yitzak, Louis Weyrich as Skszp, Jef Withonef as Tommy Gnosis, Jenny as Jacek
Much love to EVERYONE who helped make this show happen!
Photos in this series were taken by Jordan Chan and Ishmael Lerma.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Houston Gets Some Hed, Part 5: Time Collapses and Space Warps

I was on a metaphorical ledge, about to jump with the whole Hedwig project in my arms. Jef was patiently trying to talk me off that ledge. For over an hour, he kindly debated with me that I couldn't just dump the show at this stage in the game. The show, he argued, was no longer just mine, but now belonged to all the folks who were working so hard to make it happen. Once again, my frustration at various problems was being vented in Jef's direction. Eventually, I cooled down, and Jef's more rational ideas started to seep into my thick skull. Very few people who were involved in the production knew how close it was to being scrapped. Jef is owed a huge thanks for preventing me from letting that happen.
Now that I had my head on straight, we had to address the issues before us, not the least of which was the fact that we had no guitarist or bass player. The show was a little over two months away from opening, and we were nowhere near ready to roll. Jef lucked into a guitarist after discussing the show with a co-worker, Eric Allen. Eric came to a rehearsal and played some of the music from the show that he had learned on his own. He was truly amazing, and blew us all away. Jenny returned, initially as a fill-in for rehearsal, but her job circumstances later changed again...this time for the better! She would now be able to do the show, which elated us. She had been the perfect fit for this show from the beginning, so we were quite happy to have her back. That first rehearsal, with all the assembled members, was pure magic. Everything just clicked, and the chemistry between the band members was something to behold. Tiny's drumming had improved dramatically in only one week’s time. He had practiced every night for several hours on his own, and his chops were up like he'd never left the drum kit. Everyone, myself included, was stunned by how much progress he had made in such a short time.
Our rehearsals were conducted at a small space next to a convenience store. Many local bands rented the space, and we often had visits from members of such local acts as Bozo Porno Circus and Asmodeus X. The space's owner, a fantastic guy by the name of Al, often sat in on our practice sessions as well. He provided constructive feedback, and became a member of our close-knit, extended family. Along for most of the rehearsals was Jenny's then-boyfriend, Jordan. Jordan is an amazing photographer, and he started chronicling our adventures in the practice space. He was always non-intrusive, and he managed to capture many great shots when we didn't even know he was there. In addition to the rehearsals in the practice space, Jef, Lynda and I regularly met at my apartment to work out blocking, and to have Jef direct the dialogue and interaction between us. Jef and I also had regular meetings to discuss the business end of things. We now were in a stage where we needed to start advertising the show, and to this end Jef enlisted a friend by the name of Rob, who was a district manager for the Landmark Theater chain. Rob provided contacts, and helped us get our press release out to the local media. He also planned a cross-promotion with one of his theaters for when the show opened.
On top of all of this, we spent what little free time we had left slapping up flyers in local businesses around town. Everyone involved was working their asses off, but progress was being made. Word was starting to get out about the show, and soon we were being contacted by The Houston Press, as well as The Houston Chronicle. The biggest response came, not surprisingly, from the local Gay media. Houston's gay and lesbian publications took an active interest in our production, and really helped spread the word. The show was coming together, but another snag was on the horizon. Maddy-Cat was going to have to sit out the majority of the shows, since a close friend of hers had a relapse of her cancer. Fortunately, she found us a replacement in the form of a young college girl by the name of Towhee, who was quite talented with the make-up herself. With everything running full-steam ahead, the creativity started to flow. One night, I expressed to Jef that I wanted to break from the tradition of having the same actor play Hedwig and Tommy Gnosis. I had the idea of having another actor actually appear in pictures or video as Tommy, further cementing the concept of Hedwig reclaiming that persona at the end of the show. Jef not only loved the idea, he ran with it and made it happen in a way I couldn't have imagined. He enlisted the members of Asmodeus X to actually record a stunning new version of the Tommy Gnosis version of "Wicked Little Town". We then had my brother, an Emmy award winning photojournalist, to come down from Dallas to film "concert" footage of a Tommy Gnosis show to play during key scenes.
Jef secured Houston's legendary Number's nightclub for the shoot, and recruited a cast of extras. Jef himself played Tommy, while the boys of Asmodeus X played his band. During the shoot, a massive rainstorm swept into town, and the ceiling started to leak. My brother kept the film rolling, and the effect of the water cascading down on Jef was quite dramatatic. This footage was a huge hit, especially with those who had seen multiple productions of Hedwig before. It made our show stand out from the pack, and I'm quite proud of the work everyone did on it. With the show looming close, we looked forward to getting into the venue to actually rehearse on the stage. The only problem was that we couldn't get the spot until two weeks before the show opened. Once we were actually there, we discovered that we would be rehearsing upstairs, but performing on the stage downstairs. The staff at Fitzgerald's, not understanding the needs of a play, had put bands in the downstairs area every night until our press-preview night! We would be unable to adjust our blocking or stage setup until the first night we performed with a live audience. This would prove to have disastrous consequences.
To Be Continued...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Houston Gets Some Hed, Part 4: Try To Tear Me Down

We had the makings of a band, a director, a hairstylist, make-up artist, photographer, a leading lady and a seamstress. The only thing missing was the biggest one of all: money. The same obstacle that had derailed my film project with Annie was now rearing its ugly head once again, and I had no prospects of how to attract investors to the show. I just prayed that this detail would somehow iron itself out, and proceeded with planning for the show.
Once night, I was invited over to dinner at the home of friends Paul and Mary (no, there is no Peter. Go ahead and get those jokes out of the way), a couple I had once rented a room from. I had lived in Paul and Mary's house for two years, and had become dear friends with them. After moving out, I had kept in touch, and Mary frequently had me over for home-cooked meals. After dinner, we sat watching movies and discussing our lives. I mentioned the Hedwig project, and lamented my lack of an investor. Paul immediately perked up and declared "I'll do it"! Now, you have to understand that Paul is not an artsy guy at all. He is, in many ways, an old-fashioned, down-home kinda guy. Still, he had been exposed to LOTS of theater since meeting me, and had developed an appreciation for the rock musical in particular. He isn't rich, but makes good money at his job. He and Mary live in a small, unassuming house in Pasadena, Texas (yes, this is the backwater burg featured in Urban Cowboy, if you thought it sounded familiar). In short, he isn't wealthy, but they have saved wisely over the years, so they had some cash to invest. Paul was extremely hands-off on the business end, only coming to rehearsal once at my invitation. He trusted us to use his money wisely, and left the creating to us. I recruited my longtime friend, Louis Weyrich, to come on board as keyboardist and rhythm guitarist. Louis and I had fronted a band, briefly, in the 1990s, but that fell apart when I moved to Austin. He was the only person I knew who could play both instruments, although it would be a challenge for him, as he was primarily a guitarist, and his part would mainly focus on keyboards. After much discussion, Jef and I asked my roommate, Brian Moore, to join on drums. He was out of practice, and had no kit to play, but Jim solved that when he agreed to loan him his. Brian decided to use a stage name, "Tiny Flowers", which was an obscure Led Zeppelin reference. The newly rechristened “Tiny” started practicing right away, spending hours air-drumming to the soundtrack in his room.
We hit our first snag, fairly early on, when Elaine's job schedule changed. She would no longer be available on Saturday nights, so Lynda would have to cover the role of Yitzak on those evenings. Jef wanted to double-bill Lynda and Elaine, but I had reservations about this. I was also a tad bit concerned about the situation, as I wasn't sure if Jef could maintain his objectivity when it came to his girlfriend in a starring role. It was one thing to have her as understudy, but another entirely when she is going to be playing for 50% of the performances. It wasn't a question of her abilities, but of whether or not Jef would be able to direct her fairly.
My relationship with Jef became an interesting one, because we had three separate dynamics going on. We were friends, but we also had a producer-director relationship, as well as a director-actor relationship. It became very difficult to juggle those three different configurations, and it led to some tensions between us. In all honesty, Jef handled it FAR better than I did, as much of the stress of trying to put things together began to weigh on me. Jef, unfortunately, took the brunt of my wrath when things didn't go right.
In an early meeting, we had discussed various venues to have the show. Jef had thought it wise to avoid the traditional theater setting in favor of an actual nightclub, to further the illusion that one is watching an actual band play. Personally, I found this to be a brilliant idea. Fortunately for us, the very first club we approached hopped on board: Houston's legendary Fitzgerald's became the site for our show. Fitz's had long been a venue for up-and-coming bands to play, and had the punk cred we desired.
We convened early one Saturday for our promotional photo shoot. Ishmael had found a Westheimer area establishment that let us shoot in their upstairs area. Mina brought an early configuration of my dress, and a few pieces she had put together. Mina and I had spent the weekend prior putting "graffiti" all over the dress, to give it a "Berlin Wall" look (an interesting note: the top of the dress actually says "Revolution", although when sewn it looked more like it said "Slut"). Little did we know, this would be the only time that this line-up for the band would be together as a group.
Not long after the shoot, Jenny had to drop out due to a work schedule conflict. We assembled at a rehearsal space Jef had found, minus Louis, who wasn't able to make it that day. Jef had asked his friend, Carlos, to come in as bass player in place of Jenny. The first rehearsal was a disaster, to put it mildly. "Tiny’s playing was off, throwing everyone into disarray. We re-convened the next day, but things weren't much better. After the second rehearsal, Carlos pulled Jef and I aside to ask us to fire Tiny. Jef seemed conflicted, as he wasn't musical director (that job was given to Louis, and he wasn't there), and didn't want to overstep his bounds. I urged patience, as this was only the first weekend. I knew we needed to give Tiny time to bring his chops up.
Without warning, Elaine dropped out of the show, as her job was now demanding her to work Fridays as well. This led to an argument between Jef and I, as I still doubted his objectivity to Lynda in the role. The shame of it is, I'm sure Lynda thought I had an objection to her in the role, and this wasn't really the case. Unfortunately, I had my producer hat on, and was putting aside the friendship in order to make sure the show went forward. If all that wasn't enough, both Carlos and Jim dropped out the same week, both for personal reasons unrelated to the show. The entire production was falling apart before my eyes, and we were only a couple of months away from opening. I became incredibly depressed, and I once again took out my frustrations on poor Jef. As we talked on the phone one afternoon, I informed him I was shutting down the show.
To Be Continued...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Houston Gets Some Hed, Part 3: Wig In A Box

Jef sat in stunned silence, looking at me as if wondering if I was having him on. "What?" he spit out, searching my face for a hint that this was just another example of my bizarre sense of humor. I repeated myself, "I've decided I'm going to produce and star in Hedwig, and I want you and Lynda involved. In fact, I want YOU to direct the show". Jef, still seemingly waiting for the punch-line, said "but Dave, I've never directed a show in my life. Rocky Horror cast director hardly counts. Why on earth would you want ME for your director"? I explained to him how I'd noticed all the great ideas, and what-not, he had during our conversations about various shows. It was obvious he hadn't really thought about directing, but that the potential was there. I wanted to give him a chance that no one else probably would, simply because of his age and inexperience. The more we talked, the more intrigued he became. I could tell that the ideas were all swirling around in his head as we spoke. I couldn't help but smile.
I recruited Lynda for her background in hair styling. She had worked for several years at an upscale Houston salon, and did incredible work. Although she had changed careers, she still had the knack for it. I wouldn't trust my wig to anyone else. Both of them agreed to come on board, and they jumped into the project head-first. Their enthusiasm was amazing, to say the least. We spent the rest of 2003 nailing down a timetable and tossing ideas off one another. We agreed that we would really get the ball rolling after the first of the year. We didn't want to try to juggle prepping for the show with holidays and family commitments. 2004 dawned, and on Super-bowl Sunday, while the rest of America gorged themselves on beer and chips and watched football, we quietly convened in my apartment to examine the logistics of the show. The Super-bowl was hosted in Houston that year, and I lived not far from the stadium, so chaos was all around us. We seemed to be on our own little island, a group of arstsy-fartsy folk adrift on a sea of sports-loving, beer-swilling maniacs. It was a wonderful moment. Jef had already recruited two members for the band. Our longtime friend, Jim Cahoun, was brought on board to play guitar. Jim had been a cast member from the Rocky Horror days, and had the ability to sweat creativity from every pour. He often brought his guitar to cast meetings, and entertained us with acoustic versions of tunes by Pink Floyd, Nirvana and others.
On bass, Jef hired his best friend, Jenny. I'd only met her a few times before, but felt like I knew her from all the stories Jef told. She was an instant fit for the show, as she was already a huge fan. In fact, she sported a groovy Hedwig "divided face" tattoo on her neck. By the time she met with me to discuss her role, she'd already brainstormed with Jef about how her character should appear on stage.
Jef had also spoken to an associate of his about coming on board to play keyboards, but she quickly fell through. We both set out to find a replacement, and we also needed a drummer and rhythm guitarist. For Yitzak, it was a no-brainer that we would use Elaine. She and I had remained good friends after our divorce, and her familiarity with the role would, we reasoned, be a huge boost to the show. While she still lived in San Antonio, her schedule would allow her to come down on the weekends to perform. Lynda was set to understudy for her, as she knew the part quite well, just from years of being a fan. Lynda had found a makeup artist for us, a friend of hers from the goth scene known as Maddy-Cat. Maddy, in turn, brought us a photographer, Ishmael Lerma. We also snagged another Rocky Horror Alum, Mina Smith, to do the costumes. Mina had been an accomplished seamstress for years, and had done several costumes of mine for RHPS. Her skills would prove invaluable before it was all said and done. The pieces were all falling into place, but two major components were missing: a venue, and an investor. Both would wind up falling into our laps before too long.
To be continued...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Houston Gets Some Hed, Part 2: Goodbye, Wicked Little Town

As 2002 wore on, my marriage to Elaine became ever- more rocky. By December of that year, she and I had come to the realization that the only way to save our friendship was to split up. At the same time this was occurring, my job situation had become precarious. The facility I worked in was scheduled to be closed by the end of 2003, so I needed to get out of there. With my life in so much upheaval, I knew it was time for a total overhaul. I inquired within my company for job possibilities, and actually got a promotion! Best of all, the job was back in Houston! I had nothing tying me to San Antonio, other than a few friends. My time in SA had been one of heartache, loss and pain, and I was eager to distance myself from a place that reminded me so clearly of all this grief. Unfortunately, a snag occurred in the job situation, and I was put into a kind of holding pattern until it could be sorted out. I had already given notice at my apartments, and moved in with my friend, Daniel. What was supposed to be two weeks living on Dan's futon turned into five months!!!! Finally, in May of 2003, I got word that all the red tape had been sorted out, and I would be moving to Houston. As I travelled out of town, I listened to the Hedwig soundtrack. Passing the city limits, these words played: “…'cause with all the changes you've been through/ it seems the stranger's always you/ alone again in some new wicked little town/ and when you've got no other choice/ you know you can follow my voice/ through the dark turns and noise of this wicked little town/ it's a wicked little town/ goodbye, wicked little town”
Fitting, to say the least. Upon returning to Houston, I moved in with my old friend, Brian. He and I had known each other for years, and got along quite well. He had once been a drummer, but hadn't picked up the sticks in years. He talked to me of his desire to take on a project of some kind, but he just didn't know what. I kept mum on what I was thinking, because the time wasn't right yet. Lynda and Jef kept me company quite a bit, allowing me to become a third wheel on many of their activities. As always, we talked about music, movies and plays. Jef continuously impressed me with his various ideas he had for shows. He had been in charge of the local Rocky Horror cast for a time (something we had in common, as Lynda and I had both met back at the old Bel-Air theater as Rocky Horror cast members), but yearned to expand his scope beyond the shadow-cast concept. Many nights, he would rattle off ideas for staging, costuming, etc for various plays that interested him. He never once expressed that he should direct a show, but I took note.
An idea was starting to take root in my mind, the seeds of which had been planted long ago. Question was, did I have the balls to go for it? Would I be able to get the assistance I needed to put this plan into motion? Things seemed to be falling into place, but it seemed so huge, so insurmountable, that I was almost frozen by the fear of failure. I came to a crossroads within myself, and decided that I had to take some form of action, even if it was to scuttle the whole idea. I had seen various friends who had sat on their dreams over the years, continuously stating they would one day go for it, yet never going anywhere. I couldn't live my life that way, always wondering what it would have been like. I decided, odds-be-damned, that I had to do this show. I made a trip to Lynda and Jef's place, with a proposal for them both...
To Be Continued...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Houston Gets Some Hed, Part 1: The Origin Of Love

Here is something a bit different. I usually post primarily about horror/Halloween/Monsters, etc., but I decided to focus on another important aspect of my personality: acting. This is the first part of a brief series I did a few years back, about the story of how Hedwig & the Angry Inch wound up coming to Houston. It's quite a bit different from my usual faire, but I hope that all three of you who read my blog will still enjoy it! I first heard about the play Hedwig & The Angry Inch in a review in Rolling Stone magazine, circa 1998. I was intrigued by the premise, and reviewer David Fricke gushed about how incredible both the songs and story were. I made a mental note to further investigate it, but soon forgot it amongst all the normal crap of day-to-day life. A few months later, I'm paid a visit from my friends, Lynda and Jef. Jef had made a trip to New York, and seen the play live in the flesh. He raved on and on about how incredible this show was, and proceeded to play me the soundtrack. I was an instant fan. The music was one of the greatest rock scores I'd ever heard for a musical, and the story was quite compelling.
Fast forward to 2001, and Hedwig has been adapted into a film. By this point, I was rabid for this show. It's themes of isolation, loneliness and the dual quests for identity and love struck a chord with me. It was, at this time, that I became determined to play Hedwig in a stage production. I was living in San Antonio, where the theater scene was rather...sparse, to say the least. My then-wife, Elaine, was quite active in SA's theater community, so I at least had a way of knowing if any productions were going to occur. Finally, in 2002, I heard about a casting call for Hedwig, but it was only for the part of Yitzak. Ironically, Elaine went out for the part, and was cast!
During the production, I sat in on the rehearsals, and actually became somewhat involved behind-the scenes. I discovered during a conversation with the show's Hedwig, Roy Thomas, that he was also the producer. This made me flash back to a conversation I'd had with B-movie king Bruce Campbell three years before, when he'd given me this bit of advice: "If you want to act, produce" (at the time I'd been working with my friend, Annie, to get an indie film produced. It never happened, but the idea of producing was still in my mind). I'd never considered actually putting on the show myself, but here Roy was, doing exactly that. Of course, he had brought the show to San Antonio, so I didn't want to step on his toes. I didn't really have any hope of playing Hedwig, unless I moved somewhere else. With no prospects in site of this, I resigned myself to not being able to play Hedwig for the forseeable future. By the end of the year, events would be set in motion that would take me away from San Antonio, and back to Houston. Suddenly, Hedwig would be attainable once more.
To be continued...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Here's wishing everyone a Bloody good Valentine's Day!