As Andrew Rannells' stint as the titular star of Broadway's Hedwig and the Angry Inch winds down his run, the producers have announced a new star. Unfortunately for them, he's not going to be what they're looking for.
Former Dexter star Michael C. Hall will take over as Hedwig on October 16, the week after Rannells ends his own stint. Hall is committed to the role until January 4. This isn't Hall's first time playing queer – he played a gay character, David Fisher, in HBO's Six Feet Under. Like Rannells, he lacks a certain amount of star cache, though his is a recognizable name.
Unfortunately, Hedwig producers are looking for more than just recognizable right now. Faced with flagging sales after original star Neil Patrick Harris' departure – Rannells' first week grossed a little over half of Harris' last week – they need a star to reinvigorate the box office. The problem is that they're looking for something that doesn't exist. They're looking for another Harris.
Harris' performance was considered dynamite – great enough to earn him the Best Actor in a Musical Tony this year – but Rannells and Hall could be ten times the performer he is and it wouldn't help. Selling a show is less about the quality of the performer and more about their name – unless the show itself is the star. (See: The Book of Mormon, Wicked.) Hedwig got the Best Revival of a Musical Tony, sure, but Harris was one of the main reasons for its success.
Producers need someone who is popular in both the theater and general pop culture communities – a rare niche of which Harris is king. Hugh Jackman is perhaps the only other who could be a large draw, but he's huge – not in fame, but in physical stature. Hedwig as a character just wouldn't work with such a big actor.
With that option out the window, the producers will just keep looking for another NPH to keep the show running. Unfortunately, until someone clones him, Hedwig looks doomed to close sooner versus later.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.