The casting announcement has just been made, and for the San Francisco touring production of the revival of the hit rock musical Hedwig & the Angry Inch, the genderqueer main character Hedwig will be portrayed by former Glee star Darren Criss who also played the role for 12 weeks on Broadway last year. Criss was called "mesmerizing" in the role by the New York Times, after he took over after Tony winner Neil Patrick Harris finished his own stint as Hedwig. Criss will appear for the brief SHN run which will be October 4 to October 30 at the Golden Gate Theater.
Criss is notably a native son, having been born and raised in San Francisco, the son of investment banker Charles William Criss, and having been an alumnus of ACT's Young Conservatory, where he often returns to help with fundraisers.
While Hedwig, the character, is never specifically identified as transgender, many people have assumed that she is creator and original Hedwig John Cameron Mitchell has said she is not supposed to be trans, but genderqueer. "She's more than a woman or a man," he has said. "She's a gender of one and that is accidentally so beautiful."
Criss caused a bit of a stir during his run in the show, with calls of transphobia arising from a line that he ad libbed one night. Shortly after the coming out of Caitlyn Jenner in 2015, Criss improvised a line in which he's describing the character's fragrance, "Atrocity," saying it was for "man, woman, man woman, woman man, Bruce Jenner, whatever you are."
Creator and original Hedwig John Cameron Mitchell has described the character as someone who has controversial views, and isn't meant to be politically correct. "There’re all kinds of things that [Hedwig] would say that I would never agree with,” Mitchell said. “She’s anti-Semitic, she lashes out at woman who sell their hair in Sri Lanka, but she’s coming from a point of view of a very damaged person and everyone knows that the writing is to make a point about someone who’s been pushed into that well and is flailing around at the bottom and coming out at the end, hopefully, a different person."
Tickets are on sale now for the three-week run in October.