John Cameron Mitchell hit Seattle’s Moore Theatre for a good cause

by MK Scott

A live national tour is a rarity for John Cameron Mitchell, the writer, director, and star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. But “Origin of Love” is for a good cause: to raise funds to take care of his mom, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease. (A signed poster was auctioned off to an audience member for $2,500.)

At the Moore Theatre on Saturday, Mitchell came out in a Lady Gaga-inspired dress with a cape that eventually became several other looks (he explained he was going for a Transformers-inspired design).

After starting with the song “Origins of Love,” he sang several others from Hedwig, including “Wicked Little Town” and “Wig in a Box.”

As wonderful as it was to hear these songs, it was just great to hear him just talk. Mitchell told the audience the story that led him (along with Stephen Trask) to create the off-Broadway musical that spawned the film that spawned the Tony-winning hit. His father was a US Army major general, so he grew up on a military base in Germany. Mitchell’s babysitter was a Marlene Dietrich-type who was the inspiration for the character of Hedwig. In the story, Hansel, a little German boy, is forced by his mother and her future boyfriend to get a sex change and become Hedwig.

Mitchell also told the story of having met Trask on a flight, where they were the only two not watching the in-flight movie, When Harry Met Sally.

There were some funny moments, too. “This microphone smells like Jinkx Monsoon,” he said, referring to the RuPaul’s Drag Race winner from Seattle who memorably deep-throated the microphone when she played Hedwig at the Moore in 2013. “Somebody FaceTime with Jinkx,” Mitchell added. “It doesn’t smell like her mouth.”

“Could be worse. Could be Dina Martina,” he cracked.

There were serious and emotional moments as well. Regarding Hansel being forced to have a sex change, Mitchell called it “a rape.”

Later, after an amazing rendition of “Midnight Radio” – with the audience singing “Lift up your hands” – Mitchell left the stage and then came back to introduce songs from his new podcast, “Anthem,” against an image of actress Glenn Close (who is in the cast of the podcast) on the cross like a messiah.

With the show going into its third hour at that point without an intermission I had enough and left, but it was totally worth it!

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