It seems Hugh was robbed – unless there is more to the story we don’t know about?
The controversy that has manifested itself from the announcement of actor Hugh Sheridan’s casting as Hedwig in Hedwig And The Angry Inch has many questioning what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ and when is the time you come out as the production team of Hedwig and explain your decision making process to the public – an unfortunate predicament but one that might be their only choice at this point!
As has recently been revealed in an essay he wrote for Stellar Magazine, Hugh Sheridan has loved men and women (though he doesn’t like labels), which technically makes him a bisexual man and therefore a member of the LGBTQI community. Surely that gets him over the hurdle of representation to play the extremely complicated character of Hedwig, who identifies not as a trans woman but a gender queer character – according to the gay man who wrote the original rock musical.
Any more specific than that and we may have to be looking for a gay man, who then decides to get gender reassignment surgery in order to marry his male lover, because the only way to get out of the communist East and into the capitalist West was to be a married man and woman, only to then be betrayed by the man she gave up her penis for in the “botched sex change operation.”
All while dealing with a dysfunctional ‘one inch mound of flesh’ (the titular Angry Inch) “with a scar running down it like a sideways grimace on an eyeless face” – actual lyrics from the song Angry Inch and THEN!
Not only finding that heroic person against huge odds in the audition process but also then have them be able to sing and perform that very challenging role to a professional and relentless standard – that’s a challenge any casting director might throw their hands up in frustration at, with the seeming impossibility of it all!
If the production team did in fact follow a specific brief and came across a mystery unknown talented Australian through the audition process, to then give the role to Hugh Sheridan, then that seems like the only way that anyone could possibly be outraged.
I join you in your outrage at that circumstance – bring out this fantastic new talent to be celebrated!
Otherwise, what is the alternative?
Never cast another individual that doesn’t fit into a characters’ exact character description and then shut down production because that particular person is not able to be found? It sounds like the extreme answer but it also appears that we are heading down that path, for what other conclusions can be drawn from the demands of the objectors to Hugh’s casting?
And please do not misunderstand – I believe in, and crave acceptance for all members of our community who identify as both a performer and a minority. I literally shed a tear at the amazing casting announcement for the Australian production of Hamilton last week – a cast made up of over 30 Australians, many of them people of colour for which the production team auditioned for over to a year to locate!
This proves that there are producers out there who are looking for Australian talent to fill these kinds of challenging roles – could the production team for Hedwig really be so blind to the current conversations about representation and risk the public’s wrath for not casting as close to character type as possible?
The only way I could see this being the case, is if it was a business decision to cast Hugh over this other mystery talent, with Hugh’s profile and the public’s affection for him eclipsing that of the other, possibly fictional, overlooked option, which might then bring in more ticket sales.
I really doubt that but along with the rest of the people who are following this story, I wait for the next instalment with great anticipation!
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