Neil Patrick Harris Hedwig & the Angry Inch Photo credit: (Joan Marcus)

Neil Patrick Harris: Tony Nominated for Hedwig & The Angry Inch

Photo credit: (Joan Marcus)

Photo credit: (Joan Marcus)

The career trajectory of Neil Patrick Harris has been fascinating to behold. He was able to transcend child star status as the adorkable Doogie Howser, M.D. with a raunchy send-up of himself in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. Next thing you know, he’s an openly gay man playing the most legendary ladies man on network TV as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. He’s hosted the Tony Awards four times and won three Emmys for his efforts (and after last year’s opening number, I’d say Emmy #4 is in the bag). Now he’s earned a Tony nomination for Best Lead Actor in the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I had the sublime pleasure of seeing Hedwig at the Bellasco Theater. Without question, it was the highlight of my theater-going experience. Supported by an amazing rock band and the occasionally vocal Yitzhak, Hedwig is really a one man show. It’s physically demanding, heartrendingly intimate, insanely funny, a little raunchy, and flat out fun. I’m happy to say that Neil Patrick Harris was up for the task. As much as I love him, though, my love for Hedwig caused my protective instincts to flair up. Hedwig is a character near and dear to my heart. I first met her in the 2001 film version of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s 1998 Off-Broadway musical. She cracked me open like a nut and broke my heart. I’ve been devastated ever since. Now that she was going mainstream, I wanted Broadway to do right by her. Not gonna lie, the first press photos I saw made me a little nervous – it’s Doogie in drag! But as soon as I heard those dulcet East German tones over the mic, there was only Hedwig. All my cynical fears were relieved. There’s just enough Broadway production value to take advantage of the venue without compromising the show’s ragged heart. While every song’s a show-stopper, “Wig in a Box” was a true spectacle: Neil Patrick Harris changing costumes on stage, inside the front end of a car, while singing. The man’s commitment to the role is staggering, as evidenced by his refusal of an understudy. A few years ago I saw a production of Hedwig in a tiny basement theater. I sat two feet away from the mic stand, knees knocking against a speaker, sprayed by tomato pulp during the show’s gritty strobe-lit climax. It was thrilling. A hundred feet away in a Broadway mezzanine, I felt that same intensity as Neil Patrick Harris rose above the stage on a narrow pedestal, stripped nearly naked. It was only me and Hedwig, and I was devastated all over again. The Tony Awards are live on CBS June 8 at 8:00pm EST. Neil Patrick Harris will be performing with the cast of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. His fellow Hollywood/Broadway hybrid, Hugh Jackman, is hosting.

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Tags: Hedwig And The Angry Inch Neil Patrick Harris Tony Awards

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