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Broadway Star In Pensacola For A Fund Raising Dance Party


The creator of a Tony Award winning Broadway musical is coming to Pensacola to help raise money for a local production of the show. "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is not your ordinary Broadway musical. It opened off-Broadway in 1998, and has been produced around the world before beginning its Tony Award-winning Broadway run in 2014. The story centers on a gender-queer rock singer. It’s the brainchild of John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote the book for the play, and wrote, directed and stared in the 2001 film adaptation. Now, Mitchell is throwing a dance party in Pensacola this week called The Mattachine.

“Mattachine is a party that friends and I have been doing in New York for 12 years, once a month at the oldest gay bar in New York. With some of the oldest gays.”

John Cameron Mitchell is bringing this party to town to help raise funds for a local production of Hedwig, and for local LGBTQ charities. It will feature several DJs playing all types of music.

“When I first came to New York, all the music in my favorite places was completely eclectic. So you get soul, you get rock, you get disco, you get punk, country music. To us, all music is dance music. So, we just want to remind people that there is all kinds of dancing, and all kinds of music, and all kinds of people in the world, so let us not limit ourselves.”

Mitchell says this is not an event with one DJ playing electronica and samples of songs. “Our way of DJing is also very unexpected. We have four DJs at the same time. And no one’s allowed to play more than one song in a row. We have this kind of like ‘Oh yeah, well how about this?’ (thing going on) and then that will change your idea about what can come next. So it never gets rote, it never gets stale because we’re surprising each other. And sometimes we sing along to the songs, and dance along. It’s a high school dance party!” Mitchell will also be performing some material from Hedwig.

The same group that brought "Evil Dead – The Musical" to Pensacola in January is bringing in Mitchell. Julio Diaz is one of the producers of the event. He says "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is the type of show his group wants to bring to the area. “We’re dedicated to trying to do productions here in Pensacola that are things that you wouldn’t necessarily always see in Pensacola. Things that other theater companies can’t or won’t do because of the edginess of the material or the outsider status of the material. We’ve seen we have an audience for it with Evil Dead. We believe there’s an audience for Hedwig, which is just a great, great show.”

Diaz says they are looking to bring their production of Hedwig to Pensacola in June during Pride Month. For this week’s fund raiser, they have a full night planned.

“We will be starting the evening with some of our local drag performers offering their interpretations of songs from Hedwig. Then John and his crew come in and do their dance party, it runs about four hours. We’re going to follow that up with live performances of some songs from Hedwig, first with our actor who is going to play Hedwig in our production, and some of the other (local) cast may be involved with that as well. They are going to do a couple of songs and then the evening is going to end with John himself doing a couple of songs from Hedwig, and we’re very much looking forward to that.”

And for his part, John Cameron Mitchell is pleased to come and help raise money for the local Hedwig production.

“Anyone I meet who has played Hedwig, it’s like a sibling-hood, because it’s such a hard role. And from Neil Patrick Harris (who won a best actor Tony for playing Hedwig in Broadway) to a kid in Pensacola, they know what it’s like to plumb the depths of their soul and to work their body to the limit. And it’s a life-changing experience. So to me it’s very important to support every production (of the show).”

This Friday night’s benefit event is called "The Mattachine: A Hedwig Experience featuring John Cameron Mitchell". It will be held at The Cabaret on South Jefferson Street in Pensacola beginning at 8 p.m. You can find ticket information at eventbrite.com

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.