Do you know D.C.?
Get our free newsletter to stay in the know about local D.C.
I had a reasonable excuse for missing Hedwig the first time outI was halfway around the world when the “transsexual trailer-trash rock star” heroine of John Cameron Mitchell’s celebrated punk musical made her local debut last Marchbut the reviews for lead actor Rick Hammerly and his compatriots made me think, at least for a minute, about trying to get back out of Africa before the show closed. O happy me, then, that the Signature Theatre has revived its production for another run, this one in the suitably funky Warehouse Theater downtownbecause let’s just say that if it was this much of an uninhibited rush in Shirlington, Eric Schaeffer’s glam-tacky spectacle of a staging must have sent more than a few suburbanites home with their eyebrows pinned permanently to their hairlines. Hedwig, of course, is the hilariously tragic story of an East German sissy-boy whose fucked-up childhood was just the first step on a twisty path of woe; to become “the internationally ignored song stylist you see before you,” Hansel-turned-Hedwig has had to navigate a botched sex-change operation, an ill-fated marriage to an American GI, a brief stint as a Kansas trailer-park ho, and another ultimately unhappy relationship, this one with a military brat who’s ripped off her best material and become a huge rock star. (Jokes and recurring bits have been updated along with the venue: The indignities that echo from the unseen Tommy Gnosis’ sold-out arena gig are said to be coming from D.C.’s new convention center, just across the street from the Warehouse space, and downtown vice pits from the Eagle to the Green Lantern get passing mentions.) Between full-throated rockers driven by her five-piece band, the Angry Inch, Hedwig narrates a story that’s one part showbiz sendup, one part searching inquiry into what it means for an angry freak to find a workable sense of self. The answer, when it comes at last in an electric final sequence, is surprisingly movingtestimony to the irresistible mix of irony and vulnerability that inflects Mitchell’s script, to the rough, almost anthropological feel of the projections Michael Clark uses to illustrate Hedwig’s story-songs, and to the power of Stephen Trask’s sturdy numbers, which include a few real beauties. And testimony, most of all, to the complexity of Hammerly’s fierce, campy, haunted performance, to the depths in those glitter-shadowed eyes.Trey Graham