John Cameron Mitchell: ’10 Things I’ve Learned Headlining Hedwig in My Fifties’

first_imgNothing’s gonna tear John Cameron Mitchell down—not even a torn meniscus. The 51-year-old Hedwig and the Angry Inch co-creator and star is currently rocking a not-so-glam knee brace under his fishnets after he was nearly sidelined by an onstage injury. But after a weeklong hiatus (former Hedwig Michael C. Hall stepped in for the star on the fly) and a few additions to the script, Mitchell is rolling with the punches and keeping his performance as fierce and fearless as ever. What other lessons has JCM learned about playing the glittering glam rock goddess in his fifties? What the heck happened to his knee? What does he think about Darren Criss donning the wig next? Find out below! 1. There’s no pressure and less panic “Playing Hedwig this time, I’m not thinking about my acting career or anything like that. I really have nothing to lose, so I’m having so much more fun than I was off-Broadway, when I had the pressure of the movie and worrying about keeping the show open with no understudy. Plus, I get a ride to work now—we definitely didn’t have that off-Broadway!” 3. I have a celebrity understudy “Michael C. Hall has become my unexpected understudy. We’ve written into the story that Hedwig was kneecapped by an unidentified assailant that could have been another Broadway headliner. Hedwig is shocked to learn that Sting is considered a person of interest. The person was wearing a Michael C. Hall mask. At least she thinks it was a mask.” 10. …Or maybe tour the world in a wig “We have plans for our production of Hedwig to spread nationally, and to Europe, Asia and Australia, so it’s very exciting. As far as touring goes, now that I’ve done it and opened it up again, I would never say never. But I might have to get my knee replaced first! If the medical technology advances, I will consider it.” 8. Hedwig is like Elaine Stritch “This show is such a tour de force. It’s almost like Elaine Stritch’s solo show—you can’t just replace her. We’re reinventing the replacement wheel, because every time we do it, we learn a little bit more about tailoring it for the person rather than just putting them into the template. I love it. I’ve helped put in a lot of Hedwigs in my day and I hope to do a lot more.” 2. Pain comes with the territory “A few weeks ago, I was climbing out of the car [during “Wig in a Box”] and there’s an extra step there, but I didn’t use it. I stepped too high, used the wrong leg and tore my meniscus. But it’s healing extremely well—faster than my PT person has ever seen it heal. But I have to be careful. I’m an older gentleman, so the choreography winds me. Now my other knee is taking a lot of strain to compensate, and today I realized, ‘Oh great, the other knee is going.'” 5. Hedwig is (almost) mainstream “People know what Hedwig is now, and that’s wonderful. It’s not the same as being swamped for being on The Big Bang Theory, but it’s much more comfortable.” 4. Improvising is less daunting “The first time, I did Hedwig because I wanted to learn how to be free and improvisational the way rock and roll people or standup [comedians] are, and it was hard for me. It was so hard to throw in a new line. Now, it’s easy, because I just don’t care anymore—not in the way I used to. That’s what’s fun about it. Writers usually have to be alone at the computer. I’m writing in a wig on the spot.” 9. I want to do Shakespeare next “After the first Hedwig, interestingly, I was offered to play Hamlet a couple of times. I let that go because I was so burned out on acting. It seemed like a clichéd thing to do. But after seeing Mark Rylance last season in Richard III and Twelfth Night, he was so brilliant and heartwarming. He’s inspired me to rethink a delicious role in Shakespeare.”center_img Show Closed This production ended its run on Sept. 13, 2015 6. Friday 10 PM shows are insane “The 10 PM show has become a real young audience, like a rock show. There’s a special flavor. This Friday is a good one: The singer from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs [Karen O] is coming, my aunt who is a nun is coming, and 25 trans kids from Sylvia’s Place are coming—it’s a wonderful shelter for kids kicked out for being trans and queer. So it’s going to be a crazy mix of people! I love those shows.” 7. Darren Criss is ready for anything “The Broadway replacement system is a difficult one because you don’t always have the full complement of people paying attention. It’s hard to re-direct someone every three months, so there’s kind of a piecemeal effect. But I really want to be there for Darren Criss, who is incredibly motivated and hardworking and so excited about this. I want to rewrite some new stuff for him—just for him.” Related Shows View Comments See John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig at the Belasco Theatre. Hedwig and the Angry Inchlast_img

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