Courtesy PhotoGang’s all here: In Boxcar Theatre’s rocking production of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch

‘Hedwig’ gives more than an inch at San Francisco's Boxcar Theatre

At its core, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is really a love story — several love stories, in fact — and the muscular, vibrant revival now at Boxcar Theatre wears its rock ’n’ roll heart on its sleeve.

Director Nick Olivero has restaged his sold-out summer production with a 33 percent reduction in the number of Hedwigs, but almost no loss of high-spirited, ass-kicking, octave-twisting energy.

To clarify, the part of Hedwig — scripted by and for John Cameron Mitchell to a score by Stephen Trask — is usually played by a single actor.

For the July mounting, Olivero’s conceit was to distribute the role among a dozen actors of both genders and various ethnicities. This time out, we have eight and the scale feels just right.

Arturo Galster bookends the Hedwig octet and their bits of story and song about the life of this “internationally ignored” transsexual glam-rock diva wannabe. (The Angry Inch is both the name of Hedwig’s onstage band and a reference to the physical remnant of the character’s botched sex-change operation.)

Desperately defiant at the beginning and desperately defeated at the end, Galster’s energy, passion and commitment to Hedwig’s truth are riveting and deeply moving.

A perfect companion-foil to the grandiose posings and calculated manipulations of the leading lady (in all guises) is Amy Lizardo’s Yitzak. Though shuffling and seemingly resigned to his fate as Hedwig’s bitch, Lizardo offers snatches of hysterical sotto voce defiance, an appealing humanity in Yitzak’s undying glimmer of hope for a bit of his own sparkle, and excellent lead and back up vocal chops.

That last bit of praise can be applied almost universally to Hedwigs No. 2 through 8. Nikki Arias and Ste Fishell are veterans of the summer production and their “as far out there as you can get” sass and style remain strong.
Nicole Julien and James Mayagoitia rock the intimate Boxcar space with amazing vocal ranges, and Anastasia Bonaccorso, John R. Lewis and CC Sheldon complete the character, each with their own unique contribution.

Kevin Singer is a wonderfully geeky, repressed Tommy whom Hedwig loves, nurtures and loses; Russell Johnson is Luther, Hedwig’s first love; and Elinor Bell and Parker Sela return from the summer production as Hedwig’s snip-happy mother and his pre-op, little-boy self.

Rachel Robinson leads the four-piece band that never rests and there’s a wonderful new set design by Olivero that brings the audience right into the story. All in all, it’s a rollicking evening where holding on to your drinks is encouraged, as you never know who will be dancing on your table!

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