It’s great fun to be a contrarian. While I hope that every show I get to see ends up being a masterpiece, there’s a sense of satisfaction that I love to have when I see a show that everyone else praises to high heaven and I get to set the record straight on how good the show actually is. Such is the case with Hamilton, in which my much more reserved thoughts will doubtless be ignored by the thousands of people willing to drop thousands of dollars on the show, but I will still enjoy telling people who haven’t seen it yet that “it’s fine, but really, not worth the hype”.
They say you can find anything in a big city. Case in point: you can actually go see snuff theatre in San Francisco right now just off of Market Street, in the touring production of Finding Neverland. While it is true that there is no blood onstage, one can bear witness to the live death of the musical theatre in a “short” two hours and forty five minutes in which the musical comedy moves from a wonderful mode of entertainment to, as one character mentions in the show: “the lowest of all art forms”. SHN does not give me press tickets, and I had to shell out the money to see the damn thing, so I can tell you without a filter that Finding Neverland infuriates me like nothing else I’ve ever seen.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the most shocking and honest musical of 1997. When it was written, transgender* issues were almost unheard of, with trans* women more frequently finding themselves at the center of a punchline than the center of a musical. Nowadays, however, trans* exposure is far more prevalent and attitudes towards the trans* community have thankfully evolved considerably. As a result, Hedwig feels more quaint than shocking, but it’s still a very solid work of ’90s musical theatre with a fantastic punk-pop score and rivals any show for entertainment value when given a perfect production. This touring production struggles from being mounted in rather poor taste, but features two knockout performances and still is a great evening out, as long as you don’t expect any kind of emotional honesty.