John Cameron Mitchell
joins Jian to reflect on the long-running hit musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch
. The award-winning production, which most recently starred Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig, tells the story of a transgender rock star from East Berlin.
The show taps into today's global conversation about gender and sexuality, despite the fact that it was originally staged in 1998, and adapted for film in 2001.
Mitchell explains how the off-Broadway show differs from his book by the same name, what it was like to play the lead before Harris's run, and whether audience reaction has notably changed from the 1990s to now.
John Cameron Mitchell performs in the film version of Hedwig and The Angry Inch (Reuters)
"We were always the dirty underdog when we first came out, and the theatre community was sort of afraid of us. The non-theatre community came, rushed in and loved it," Mitchell said.
He credits Neil Patrick Harris for expanding the musical's reach to a larger audience.
"We thought he was the perfect person to bring Hedwig to all those people who thought they might not like it."
Hedwig is a metaphor for "the other"
Mitchell asserts that Hedwig's character is one with which many people can empathize.
"Hedwig is not a trans voice. She's not a gay [voice] -- gay was the least of her problems, you know what I mean? It's like, it is 'the other'. 'I don't belong here on earth, in this country, in this planet, in this school, in this body, what do I do? Who am I?' Everyone understands that."
Two takes on Sugar Daddy
Watch Harris perform the song Sugar Daddy on stage during the 68th Tony Awards, and then see Mitchell's more subtle take in the 2011 film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Which interpretation do you find more compelling?
Mitchell is in Toronto to lead the Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Sing-a-Long) as part of the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival.
To listen to the full interview, click on the listen button above.