The critically acclaimed rock & roll musical HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH starring Donovan Leitch returns to The Roxy Theatre on Sunset for a week-long residency November 1-7. The show first premiered at The Roxy in 2006 and is back by popular demand.
In addition to the Roxy show, Donovan Leitch Jr., who plays Hedwig, will be the honorary mayor of the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by an East German transgender singer. Tickets are on sale now with a portion of the proceeds going to The Trevor Project , the leading national organization for crisis intervention and suicide prevention amongst LGBTQ youth.
LA.COM landed an interview with Donovan Leitch to chat about the Rock & Roll musical.
Q: Hedwig was named Honorary Mayor of West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval , are you excited about that?
Donovan: Well yeah, it will be an interesting night. Hedwig is definitely an iconic gay character and I suppose there are not to many iconic gay characters so its really going to be a very well received performance as well as a lot of fun. It's a great opportunity to get the show because its the night before we are opening at the Roxy so it really couldn't be better promotion.
Q: Does the movie differ from the show (Rock show or play)?
Donovan: It's a lot different from the show. The show was an off Broadway musical ten years before the film, and Hedwig was kind of created in the downtown nightclubs of New York City by John Cameron Mitchell and it ended up becoming a musical and it ran for five years really successfully and I believe it was about five different actors playing the role of Hedwig and I was one of those actors.
That was the first time that I did it and I brought it back to LA six years ago at the Roxy. This is the 3rd time that I'm playing Hedwig. The live performance is very raw and gritty and it's all meant to be taking place , the way we are staging it, it's all meant be taking place at the Roxy theater. The film was kind of a major departure from what the original musical was. It was the music,it was the characters, mainly Hedwig is telling the story of Hedwig while she is on stage. It's sort of in the midst of the concerts, as opposed to their actually being sets and things like that.
Q: The show first premiered at The Roxy in 2006 and is back by popular demand. But it has really never left as its been in production in other parts of the world?
Donovan: Oh Yeah it's done everywhere, it's done all over the world. It's back at the ROXY by popular demand, because the Roxy is famous for basically bringing musical theatre to Los Angeles. The very, very first performance of the Rocky Horror Picture show was at the Roxy, the first performance of PeeWee Herman was at the Roxy, the first live performance of Cheech and Chong was at the Roxy so there is a lot of history. When I did it six years ago there it made perfect sense because of the history.
Q: About the (Hedwig) character, did you find your other half that completed you? Who is it?
Donovan: Well I'm still kind of --I think we are still trying to search for that, to feel complete, to feel whole. I think that the reason for so many people get into relationships and kind of lose themselves into other people is because ultimately what you are trying to do is your trying to fill this sort of gap or void that's inside of yourself, and ultimately that's kind of what Hedwig's journey is. When Hedwig first , when his Dad leaves, his Mom leaves and his boyfriend leaves, everyone Hedwig cares about seems to disappear and it's a real tragic story. And I think to a certain extent we have all sort of had that, and I'm still constantly on the search for that kind of completion and wholeness even if it's not in a person. It could be with work or family. There are so many -- it's never sort kind of quite there. I am sort of always reaching for. That is half of the reason that so many people relate to the show in a very personal way. With Hedwig people don't just go to see the show once, people go to see it ten, fifteen, twenty times and have a real cathartic experience when they are watching it.
Q: Are Tommy Gnosis and Hedwig the same person who if together would form a whole?
Donovan: Well that's kind of the way I perceive it as being, there is a moment in the show towards the end were-- when Hedwig first comes out on stage she is completely in full regalia full costume, full everything. And through-out the show gets stripped down, and stripped down and then at the very end of the show, Hedwig transforms into Tommy, and Tommy is kind of like stripped , sort of like Hedwig stripped bare. Then Tommy tries to put the wig back on and become Hedwig again but he can't really do it. And what I think what is happening (for me) is like it is this struggle were Hedwig has become Tommy,and Tommy has become Hedwig , like these two side come together. I do think they are they same person.
Q: The music Produced in 1998 and the music is 1970's glam rock era of David Bowie on the show, did you get to work with Bowie?
Donovan: Bowie's relationship to the show was just as a fan, he saw the original production. He wasn't involved with it. Stephen Trask wrote all the music and John Cameron Mitchell wrote all the words to the show.
Q: The money being raised from the show will be benefiting the Trevor Project the organization for crisis intervention and suicide prevention amongst LGBTQ youth.?
Donovan: Yes, ten percent of the tickets sales.
Q: Do you still play with your bands, Camp Freddy and Nancy Boy?
Donovan: Nancy Boy is ancient history, but Camp Freddy, absolutely. It's been eleven years now, and we do an annual Christmas residency at the Roxy on December 19,20, and 21. We do this every year, this will be our sixth year doing it. The core members of the band are myself , Matt Sorum, Dave Navarro, Billy Morrison, and Chris Chaney, and at every show we get guests to come on it's sort of like an all-star rock-n-roll cover band.
Q: You started out as a break-dancer (Dono-Dee)?
Donovan: I grew up in Los Angeles, and back in the 80's obviously break dancing was pretty big. I was going to school in Hollywood and all the kids were getting into it. But I was like the only white kid hanging out with all these black and Mexican kids, and they were all breaking (dancing). I remember walking up to this crew and asking them, "Can you teach me how to do this?" I started making a name for myself because I was getting pretty good at it.
I then started getting into all sorts of music videos things like that. I was in the "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" film, commercials and music videos. That's kind of how I got into acting because I was dancing, then I started acting just kind of as a result from that. Then later I got into music. I was in the Lionel Ritchie video," All Night Long" , that was pretty funny. That was sort of my intro to that whole world after acting for a number of years, I moved to New York for eight years and was auditioning for musicals and that's when I got into Hedwig and did it in New York.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH starring Donovan Leitch The Roxy Theatre on Sunset November 1-7.
Donovan Leitch Jr. is also producing The Go-Go's Musical with Gwyneth Paltrow as well as a documentary on the history of the Sunset Strip.
Camp Freddy - Dec. @ the Roxy..