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NYC Weekend: Hedwig & The Angry Inch

If you forced me at gunpoint to pick my life’s current theme, I’d probably knock you out, take the gun, and demand to see your boss (I may even throw in a cool one-liner like “I ain’t got time to bleed” or some such thing, just to drive home my badassery.)

But if you had the foresight to roofie my drink ahead of time, I’d confidently say: ADAPTATION.

For new readers, let’s recap, shall we? New home. New job. Single… All within a 2 week period. Something like Miley Cyrus came in like a wrecking ball and left me to pick up all the broken pieces. It hasn’t been easy, but all things considered, my life’s been pretty great.

About two weeks ago, I embarked on an adventure to NYC with my main sistah-bros Lillian, Paige, and Casey. Our reason? To catch the Broadway reboot of Hedwig And The Angry Inch, starring Neil Patrick effin’ Harris! (You may have heard of it: it was nominated for some major theater award no one’s ever heard of.)

Photo by Joan Marcus

And involves NPH in drag. Need I say more? 

(Photo by Joan Marcus)


Quick background: Hedwig started as an off-Broadway musical in 1998, became a smash cult film in 2001, and is now the Broadway show your mom’s probably heard about, courtesy of Barney from How I Met Your Mother.

The play is framed as a rock concert. Throughout the band’s “set”, Hedwig tells the story of her former lover that stole her songs and made it big as Tommy Gnosis. (Within the play’s story, Tommy also happens to be playing a much larger show right next door.)


But back to my theme: ADAPTATION. Fitting, since that’s the precise quality that made this show so incredible from the beginning. In 1998, writer/director/star John Cameron Mitchell and songwriter Stephen Trask sought out concert venues in order to legitimize The Angry Inch as a band. Learning the names and histories of each venue and integrating that into the material teased audience expectation even more. Many inevitably scratched their heads asking,  “How much of this is staged?”

In the same way that Hedwig, the character, identified as both male and female, Mitchell’s story fell somewhere between two worlds. Part rock show, part stage play.

So In 2014, director Michael Mayer faced the challenge of maintaining Hedwig’s spirit while introducing it to a more mainstream audience. Leaving purists to ask: how do you gracefully transition from fringe theater “rock show” to BIG Broadway musical? How do you make something feel unpredictable when so many people are watching?

When we arrived, my sister noticed a Playbill for Hurt Locker: The Musical on the floor by her seat. Hmph. Odd. How had I never heard of this? When we looked up, we saw broken-debris set pieces, demolished remnants of brick walls, and a beat-up car centerstage. Then NPH came out in all his glamorous genderfuck glory (courtesy of stylist Arianne Phillips), performed the opening number (“Tear Me Down”), and explained that Hurt Locker: The Musical had been cancelled on its opening night…

But not really. That show was as farcical as Hedwig’s cleavage.

There was a method to that moment of madness: the band never stopped interacting with the “discarded” set. At one point, NPH made a fall you’d swear was unstaged, but beneath his feet was sheet music from the “defunct” fake musical. (The piece turned into a beautiful solo number for Hedwig’s wife Yitzhak, played by the magnetic Lena Hall).

Hedwig is a show that knows its space and audience, and adheres to both. There was even mention of David Belasco, the former owner who allegedly haunts the venue to this day. His possible presence resulted in some entertaining (seemingly off-the-cuff) banter with an audience member (who Paige and I have since dubbed Hottie McHotpants). Seriously, though: Foxy Daddy defined.

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Carve Unique Sandwiches & Pizza

The trip’s food highlight was a nifty pizza joint called Carve, which was just minutes from our venue. It was affordable (by Broadway dining standards), delicious, and conveniently open 24 hours. We sort of cheated on this one – Paige had been there just a few months ago when she and her better half saw Mike Nichols’ Betrayal (starring Rachel Weisz and, more importantly, Daniel Craig… Mmmmm… Daniel Craig). We knew it’d be a hit.

The remainder of the trip was dedicated to walks in Central Park, late night fro-yo adventures, bonding, and purchasing Fat Lady street art.

There were downsides to the trip, too. The rain dampened our Empire State plans, the traffic was horrendous, and food and drink was astronomically expensive. But none of that mattered much. For every snag, there was a step back, a new plan, and two steps forward. In a moment of crisis, we’d respond with the ingenuity of NPH, stomping in high heels, groin to the collective face of an unsuspecting audience.

It all worked out because I was with people who reminded me that the world doesn’t need to fall apart when things don’t go as planned. If anything, these fiascos make for a much better show.

Till next week, my lovelies!

PS.

You know the “follow the bouncing ball” sing-a-long trope? Have you ever wondered how to make that into something filthy?

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Operation: Fried Pickles.

Welp, It’s January. Many of us are experiencing the not-so-fun comedown from last year’s Christmahanakwanzikah cheer. But while this month is typically associated with bad feelings, the Hensel-Leto clan has had no shortage of high spirits.

Credit is due to our latest addition, who fits about as perfect as Michael Jackson’s sparkling white glove. Our little guy has all the spunk of his two daddies, as well as our distinct low-tolerance for New England weather. In fact, our native Texan Prince already agrees that the sheer volume of snow fall is unacceptable, and has demanded we fashion him some adorable sweaters immediately (Hillary, we’re lookin’ at you).

Aren't they precious?

Aren’t they precious?

This past week, we helped Hans get acclimated by introducing him to his Auntie Lillian and her band of rogue rascals (Marcel and Guiseppe, pictured to the right):

They got along fine, but when it came to Lillian’s foster pup, MindyMarthaAliceMiranda (she responds to any and all names), we decided that one thing’s for sure: just like his two daddies, Hans is less than impressed by sprightly chillun-folk. Thereby reaffirming that he is indeed perfect.

Here are a few things you need to know about our friend, Ms. Lillian Barrows White.

1) She’s a canine expert. As a long time groomer and lover of adorable mutts, she is our go-to gal for early morning Hans-induced panic attacks. Not only that, but;

2) She loves weird foods. Seriously, there’s nothing this girl won’t put in her mouth.

Which was what lead us to an extensive conversation about where we could get some locally-made frog’s legs. Enter: Keepers in West Boylston, MA. Following an unprompted, dramatic recitation of the ENTIRE menu, and the discovery that they also serve fried pickles (Lillian’s absolute unequivocal favorite), our choice was made.

So post-meet-and-greet, a new adventure commenced. With a high stakes football game as our backdrop, it was primetime for a smörgåsbord! The items:2014-01-19 17.45.56

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  • Finder’s Keeper’s Fried Pickles (3.99)
  • Frogs Legs (7.99)
  • Escargot (5.49)
  • Cordon Bleu Mini Bites (5.99)
  • Side Salad (to maintain our hour-glass figures)
  • New Englad Clam Chowdah (3.59)
  • Lobster Macaroni and Cheese (10.79)
  • Jalapeno Macaroni and Cheese (chicken added) (7.49+)
  • More Salad (because these pants won’t fit into themselves, ya know), and
  • Meatballs in a Bread Bowl

With frog legs on left and snails on right, AJ acquiesced and decided that, while he can appreciate amphibious cuisine, gastropods aren’t really his thing. The rest was shared around the table with rave reviews.

Everything on the table was fair game to anyone. The Patriots fans were huddled around the 16 flat screens and we had ourselves a tailgate party. The bar cleared out and the waitress told us that the hometown boys had lost. The place got quieter, but our games had just begun.

2014-01-19 18.12.29Spencer added grilled chicken to the jalapeno mac-n-cheese and sweated the experience with great joy. In Spencer’s world, spice is most certainly nice. Miss Lillian, the connoisseur of peculiar culinary cravings must’ve had enough of the weird because she chose a staple in American fare, the recently famous lobstah-mac-n-cheese. AJ had the meatballs in a bread bowl and only got half-way through one of them. Alas, just like Brady’s boys in blue, we had lost, too. Our loss was that we couldn’t get our bellies to expand past our belts. Luckily, we left with a consolation prize of two bags of leftovers. The meatball sandwich/bread bowl was excellent and reheated a few days later on a panini press quite well (read: squeezed into a George Foreman). The jalapeno/chicken/mac-n-cheese kept its signature smoky flavor and made an awesome afternoon meal the next day. Our first quarter may have ended in defeat, but boy did we come out swinging when it came to numero dos.

The waitress that we had was AWESOME! Barbara, Thank you! We wish the Patriots had won, if only to keep the energy alive, but the good eats more than made up for it. Keepers is keeping it awesome in an awesomely american pub style. It’s comfort food done in a very fun way. Foods that our Nana’s and Grampa’s enjoyed with some of our generation’s true favorites. Next to Finders, Keepers surely is – a keeper! ;-0

Eat old shool. Eat with friends. Live and Enjoy!