Hair done, nails done, everything did for Hedwig

Brian Porter gets into character

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Brian Porter pre-Hedwig
  • Brian Porter pre-Hedwig

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is one of our top picks for Piccolo this year. What If? Productions presented a short run of the show last year, and they’re back with some new surprises. We chatted with Brian Porter about getting into character for the classic role of a transsexual punk rock gal from Berlin.

The preparation begins at home, where Porter breaks out the razor. “I tend to be a pretty hairy guy so I have to shave every part of my body, which is no fun,” he laughs.

When he reaches the theater, he sits down for a long session — about 45 minutes — with his makeup team. Luckily, the two makeup artists were already big fans of Hedwig.

“The makeup is a really an art form with this show because Hedwig’s makeup and hair are so recognizable, and the makeup artists take a lot of time sculpting the cheekbones and the different shadows in the eye, covering up the male features of my face,” Porter says. “It takes a pretty long time to get it right ...There’s a lot making me look a semblance of attractive or a semblance like a female.” It doesn’t take quite as long to remove it, though.

“I’ve actually sweated most of it off by the end of the show,” he says.

From there, it’s time to suit up, and Porter says the costumes this time around are much more elaborate than last year’s show.

“Last year we did a really scaled-down version where I pretty much wore the same thing the whole show and of course midway through as he starts ripping his facade away he starts taking off some of the items. But there is a bustier involved, fishnets, high heels, a ’70s psychedelic sort of jumper, a giant cape, and all sorts of things. It’s going to be pretty wild.”

This year’s production also features more choreography.

“We have a little more choreography with some of the numbers, to make them a little more poking fun as opposed to taking it seriously,” Porter says. “Some of the songs are really campy, but we didn’t really play it up [last time]. I think with the choreography this year we’re really going to be able to play it up.”

Hedwig and the Angry Inch opens Saturday night at the American Theatre at 10 p.m.

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