Rio Alberto sings during a rehearsal Tuesday evening of “Hedwig and The Angry Inch” which debuts at Perseverance Theatre on Sept. 15. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Rio Alberto sings during a rehearsal Tuesday evening of “Hedwig and The Angry Inch” which debuts at Perseverance Theatre on Sept. 15. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Perseverance Theatre to kick off season with cult classic ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’

The show debuts Friday, Sept. 15.

Perseverance Theatre is back — and ready to rock.

The Douglas theater’s latest show, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” will kick off its 45th season Sept. 15, running through Oct. 1. The show is a fictional “radical rock spectacle” that follows Hedwig Robinson (played by Perseverance’s Rio Alberto) who is an East German front singer of the rock and roll band the Angry Inch. The audience meets her as she is traveling the world in search of becoming the rock icon she believes she’s destined to be, but learns that her difficult upbringing and tainted relationships with past lovers continue to haunt her as she pursues her dreams.

Rio Alberto and Salissa Thole interact during a rehearsal Tuesday evening of “Hedwig and The Angry Inch” which debuts at Perseverance Theatre on Sept. 15. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Rio Alberto and Salissa Thole interact during a rehearsal Tuesday evening of “Hedwig and The Angry Inch” which debuts at Perseverance Theatre on Sept. 15. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

The stories tackle topics like queer self-discovery, self-love and self-acceptance all with the background of live rock and roll music taking the audience through a “really unique immersive experience,” said director Joseph Biagini.

The show is Biagini’s first time directing, a task that he said comes with a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement and one he’s eager to take on.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s a really fulfilling way to be of service,” he said. “It’s really gonna be like a live rock concert, but there’s also a strong narrative and a moving story — and it’s a bit of a revenge story.”

This isn’t Perseverance’s first time hosting the show — it was originally first staged during its 2004-2005 season. Biagini said the theater was drawn to bring the show around again for a number of reasons, most notably the chance to play live rock and roll music along with having a strong lead performer in Juneau like Alberto willing to tackle the tough role.

“Firstly, live music is always great and whenever you can do live music it’s a plus,” he said. “But really, knowing that we had our Hedwig in our back pocket, for me, was so important. You don’t program this show unless you know who’s playing her because it’s kind of like a solo show that she’s carrying.”

Alberto has performed as Hedwig before at a theater in Washington. This time around, Alberto is joined by five other performers on stage to bring the music to life. They said performing the show in Juneau brings a new set of layers to the performance that they did not necessarily need when they performed in Washington.

“I think, on a larger scale, this show right now tells the story of the gender binary, and how a hurt person hurts people,” they said. “Doing it Juneau right now is to be using arts and culture as an avenue for influencing discussion at every level of our community — whether it’s in the grocery store, the Assembly or at the state level with policy that’s actually impacting our kids — arts and culture has always been responsible for driving that conversation, and making these discussions relevant, and that you’re going to confront it and talk about it because you’re gonna walk out singing these songs at the end of the night.”

Alberto said beyond the deeper influences and meanings of the show, the energy of the music weaved throughout the storyline is unlike most other shows the theater typically puts on.

Salissa Thole sings during a rehearsal Tuesday evening of “Hedwig and The Angry Inch” which debuts at Perseverance Theatre on Sept. 15. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Salissa Thole sings during a rehearsal Tuesday evening of “Hedwig and The Angry Inch” which debuts at Perseverance Theatre on Sept. 15. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

“It’s going to be just a cool rock concert, and people like rock and roll,” they said. “So if you’re a fan of rock and roll, from heavy metal to glam rock to punk rock, this show is so rich with each of these songs having a different rock and roll influence that I think even if you’re not a fan of musicals, think of this as like a rock concert in a weird place strung together by a German woman that’s kind of spiraling out.”

Know & Go

What: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

When: Sept. 15 – Oct. 1, times vary per performance

Admission: Regular price $45, pay-as-you-will Sept. 13.

Where: Perseverance Theatre, 914 3rd St, Douglas, AK 99824.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651) 528-1807.

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