Every time I see a show that was Nick A. Olivero behind it, I know a good time is ahead of me.
Olivero manages to turn every tale we've seen before into something new, fresh, progressive and amazing.
When I go to the Boxcar Theatre, it looks different every time. Olivero transforms the entire theatre into part of the set, which has a great effect on the overall experience.
A few years go, I sat in a plant store where "Little Shop of Horrors" entertained the crap out of me and made me write that it was the greatest production of that show ever. Last summer, I was transported to a German bar where I saw "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," the show that introduced me to a cast of amazing performers including Jason Brock, who went on to be an "X Factor" finalist.
The show's short run left me wanting more. The talented Brock went on to TV acclaim. "Hedwig" returned - and revamped - in January and Brock came back for a two week stint that just ended this past Saturday. I was so fortunate to be one of the lucky ones to have seen one of his last (for now) performances and his post show cabaret act.
Even with Brock gone, the show does go on. Olivero told the audience that due to its popularity, "Hedwig" will run for an indefinite period. That can be a long time if you get off your chair, rocker, feet, hands, iPhone, iPad, cell phone, Facebook or Twitter and get your butt to the Boxcar!
I say that even without Brock, the show, production, sets, costumes, lighting and that frickingly talented ensemble cast are so amazing, you're absolutely crazy if you don't find time to attend.
Like before, Olivero has splintered the character of Hedwig from one actor to now eight, each representing a different fragment of Hedwig's personality. The tale of a young German boy with a botched sex change operation (hence Angry Inch) whose career has taken a backseat to a stadium-filling rock star he mentored isn't really the reason to go. Sure it's interesting and a lot of fun. But the cast and those perfected rock songs set the stage for a magical night of theatre.
This time, Olivero transforms the theatre into a cabaret - complete with dive bar food items and some cool and clever cocktails. I myself enjoyed a Sugar Daddy Martini, which had candy garnishments.
The wait staff quietly mingles among the audience bringing out food and drink at the right intervals in the 90 minute show with no intermission. Then the performers take stage. Sometimes one at a time and others all eight. Singing to you, for you, at you and sometimes on you! Sometimes they get off the stage and get face-to-face with the audience, singing Hedwig's songs from the soul. There's even one time in which a Hedwig, with the participating audience member's permission, sits right down next to him and acts right there from the audience.
Skittish people (like my friend Francis) should definitely get the cheaper seats (even though the most expensive is only $50) as there is less likelihood of a Hedwig sitting on your lap in the back of the small intimate theatre.
The cast is so unbelievable it's like watching a reality show called "Boxcar Idol" without any of the laughably awful contestants. It's hard to list standouts - mainly because most of the characters are named Hedwig and the longer it plays, the more people who have come and gone from certain parts. (Also Olivero can transform the theatre but doesn't seem to make a program).
I will say besides Brock, at Friday's performance I loved John Lewis, who was amazing in "Little Shop" as well. He had the privilege of singing one of my favorite "Hedwig" songs, "Wig in a Box" and does it justice. And this "Hedwig" also features real women and it was great to see Trixxie Carr again, who seems to pop up in every show I like these days. Also, it's good to see Arturo Galster again in the role who brings Hedwig his emotional core and Flynn Witmeyer who brings a lot of innocence and vulnerability in his turn as Hedwig. Bear fans might find a little bit of sexiness in the cub who plays bass in the band
But this is an in-your-face show that at the end of it, makes me so happy I love the theatre and even feel blessed that Nick A. Olivero walks the face of the earth.
Go see it! If you get four other friends, your ticket is free. Show plays Wednesdays-Saturdays at 8pm and also at 5pm on Saturdays. Get more information at www.boxcartheatre.org.