Achtung! Seth Drabinsky’s lead performance in Hedwig And The Angry Inch has really grown.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask (breathe.feel.love). At the Drake Underground (1150 Queen West). Runs to January 26. $35, stu/srs $25. 416-531-5042. See listings. Rating: NNNN
Seth Drabinsky has come a long way since he first donned Hedwig's signature platinum mop in 2009. Back then, his Hedwig was the better half of Ghost Light's raunchy but uneven double bill, along with the forgettable Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical. In the years since, Drabinsky has made Hedwig his own, taking on the role of co-director and remounting the show with his own company for a successful string of cross-country engagements.
The cult hit focuses on a washed-up transgender East German glam rocker who spends the show recounting how she ended up in America after a botched sex-change operation.
Drabinsky's performance was strong before and is even better now. The nagging slip-ups in his German accent that we noted back in 2009 are nowhere to be found, and Drabinsky now wears Hedwig's vampy charisma and volatile punk attitude like a second skin. Some of the funniest moments were during improvised banter with the audience.
While Drabinsky largely carries the show, he gets plenty of help from the Angry Inch, the solid backing band, and L.A. Lopes, who reprises her role as submissive sidekick/whipping boy Yitzhak (and once again shows off her impressive pipes). The band's four seasoned session musicians know how to rock, and they feed nicely off the ferocious energy Hedwig exudes. Blasting through the Drake's muscular sound system, the punk-, rock- and glam-inspired songs - including The Origin Of Love and The Angry Inch - sound stadium-sized, as they should.
After a play that runs a brisk 90 minutes, an encore would have been welcome, but be warned: seating is limited, and if you don't snap up a spot, it's standing room only.