Andrew Rannells Will Succeed Neil Patrick Harris's 'Hedwig & the Angry Inch' On Broadway & We Can't Wait
It was just last Sunday that Neil Patrick Harris took to the stage at Radio City Music Hall to accept a Tony for his starring role in Broadway's Hedwig And the Angry Inch. Now his departure from the show's been confirmed — he's a movie and TV star with a limited engagement, after all. But our melancholy over his exit is slightly soothed by the person lined up to take his place: Andrew Rannells will replace Harris in Hedwig .
Rannells will step into Harris' heels and wigs sometime in August. They're certainly big heels to fill, but Rannells is hardly a Broadway novice: He rose to fame in 2011 through the smash hit Book Of Mormon, but he'd been on Broadway since appearing as Link Larkin in Hairspray in 2005. Since then his audience has grown exponentially through a starring role in The New Normal and a recurring role in Girls. That turn in Book Of Mormon also earned him a Tony nomination, and in fact has already played Hedwig in a 2001 production in Austin, TX. In other words: He's got this.
We do have to admit, it's a little disappointing that Broadway's version of Hedwig keeps perpetuating the pattern of cis men playing trans women and winning awards for it. Our love for Rannells and Harris runs strong, though, so it's a complicated objection. Here's what Hedwig co-writer John Cameron Mitchell (who also starred as Hedwig in the feature film) said about the issue in an interview published today on Broadway World:
Over the years, people of all stripes have come up to me and said 'Hedwig meant a lot to me,' and they understood it's a beautiful metaphor. Yes, I'm playing a person who's trans...but she didn't want to be; Hedwig does not stand for trans people, she was mutilated against her will! A woman plays a guy who wants to be a woman as a back up singer. Everyone knows this was a fairy tale, a story that you could interpret in many ways. I'm sure someone somewhere is mad that Neil Patrick Harris is playing a trans person, but it's gone too far. The world is not perfect and it must be sensitized to all of us, but we also know there's intersections between gay, between trans, between drag, lesbian, between cis men.
Whatever you think of what he says here — and whether it ultimately excuses it or not — it's hard not to admit Harris tore down the house with his Tony performance:
And here's Rannells performing at the Tonys for Book Of Mormon:
Conclusions? I have no idea, but for now I'm entertained.