FANS of queer cabaret are in for a treat as the MELT Queer Arts Festival is set to include an epic celebration of beloved musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Director and producer James Lees, whose previous musical and cabaret projects include last year’s blockbuster Ziggy Stardust, presents HEDWIG 15 as a spectacular tribute to the queer glam rock phenomenon.

“I’ve loved Hedwig since the film came out,” Lees told the Star Observer.

“I’ve been considering a show using the music for at least last five years, but not as a production of the musical.”

Bursting into Brisbane’s Powerhouse Theatre to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the film’s release, HEDWIG 15 is “a multi-format party and celebration”, said Lees.

The event will include a big-screen showing of the iconic film version of Hedwig, followed by an all-star concert performance of the blistering glam–punk soundtrack.

Lees’ prior glam rock show Ziggy Stardust was first performed as a tribute to David Bowie at the 2003 Brisbane Pride Festival. Plans began in 2015 to return the show for the 2016 Melt Queer Arts Festival. Then Bowie’s passing happened to occur a matter of weeks before the performance.

“The show was always a celebration of Ziggy, and it then turned into this huge glam rock funeral in Brisbane for Bowie,” Lees said.

“It was the most intense thing I did last year, and the most rewarding.”

HEDWIG 15 will take a similar performance approach as Ziggy Stardust.

“No one is playing the role of Hedwig — we’re all Hedwig,” Lees said.

“As the film credits roll, the band will invade the stage.”

The theatre will be set up in party mode, with cabaret tables and a central bar to ensure revellers don’t miss a moment of the experience.

Lees’ musical accomplices, known as the Electric Moon Collective, include many of Brisbane’s finest musicians and vocalists. They will be joined by an all-star band including Shiv Zimmerman (Kristy Apps & Shotgun Shirleys), John Meyer (Bertie Page Clinic/The Good Ship), Kevin Haigh (Ziggy Stardust) and Parmis Rose (Sahara Beck, Silver Sircus).

Hedwig and the Angry Inch debuted on Broadway in 1998, and has since been produced hundreds of times around the world. The musical and the 2001 film adaptation tell the incredible story of a genderqueer singer who leaves East Berlin in the 1980s and finds redemption in punk and glam rock.

The cult classic is ultimately a story of beauty, acceptance, individuality and love. Lees believes these qualities, coupled with the explosive glam and punk soundtrack, are why Hedwig endures as “a deeply empathetic and universal work”.

HEDWIG 15 is running one night only at the Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre, on Saturday January 28. Tickets are available through the Powerhouse.

The show is presented as a collaboration between Electric Moon and the Melt Queer Arts Festival.

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