I saw Darren in Hedwig tonight (Thursday). I think I need to gather my thoughts, before I write my review about Hedwig. I just want to say that I re-read Lilikoiluv's review, and I am so impressed with your review, with the range of issues you bring up. I may as well just say "ditto" for my review.
I cannot possibly say it any more eloquently. Not possible. At all.
I can share a few things that are easy for me to talk about. I chatted with this nice lady sitting in front of me. She is a big Hedwig fan, having seen NPH, Andrew Rannells, John, and Darren (twice!) on Broadway. I could tell she was in awe of John. She said Neil felt the most ferocious, which impressed her. She said before she saw Darren she had her doubts, because he seemed too young for the part. But after she saw him, she felt he was terrific (she saw him twice on Broadwy). She said he captured Hedwig's pain. So I, being the nosy person that I am, asked beside John, who stood out for her. I asked her if it was Neil, since she did seem very taken with his peformance. She hesitated and like the nice person she is, she said every single Hedwig she saw brought something different and interesting to the show. She was thinking, and then said while she was impressed with how ferocious Neil's Hedwig is, she was impressed with how she felt Darren really understood the character and what Hedwig was feeling. And then she took a breath and sighed (literally), and exclaimed with admiration, how Darren's transformation back and forth between Tommy and Hedwig was seamless and effortless in the scene where Hedwig and Tommy are having the conversation near the last 1/3 of the show. I can tell by her tone of her voice, how moved she was that Darren portrayed the pivotal scene in such an amazing, emotional way. It was really great talking to someone who was such a big Hedwig fan.
After the show, while we were waiting to get our car, I heard a man talking to his two friends. He said he was impressed with Lena's voice, and then he exclaimed "Darren was terrific!" (yes, he said it with emphasis!). His friends agreed. The man then said he didn't know who Darren was before. One of his friends said Darren was on Glee. The man said he never watched Glee, and then he repeated with admiration in his voice, that he thought Darren was just terrific! My husband and I smiled when we heard his words.
So the audience was interesting. Tonight was an evening show. The last time I saw Darren in Hedwig was on Broadway, during a matinee. And I have read that the energy of a matinee is much less than that of the evening shows, and I would agree with that, but only in some ways. This crowd was louder than the Broadway matinee I saw, in terms of applause and hooting with appreciation. But I had a feeling that this audience, even though more middle-aged, compared to the more elderly folks at the Broadway matinee I saw, knew less about the show they were seeing than the Broadway audience I was with. Only one person shouted out when Hedwig asked about her hair. ( I shouted something out to help out since there was only one shout-out, but Hedwig made a joke about moving on, or something.
My husband was laughing at me.)
I couldn't see who was kissed, but it appears that whoever it was left. Hedwig remarked on it during the show. I have never heard of this happening before. It was shocking to me, and really unfortunate. And again, I am so impressed with how Darren just ran with it, and made a joke to the person who was sitting next to the person who left, about how glad she/he is still there. And at curtain call, being the sweet person he is, Darren looked at the person (persons) who were sitting next to the person(s) who left and again thanked them. It was very sweet and genuine.
And sadly, I had some not-so-desirable seat partners. My husband and I were sitting in the aisle seats (where Yitzhak walks at the end). There was a couple who came a good 10-15 minutes after the show started, and the poor usher was going up and down the aisle with a flashlight, shining on the row numbers in one area for what felt like a good minute. To my horror, they figured out it was my row that the couple was sitting in, so everyone had to stand to let the couple in, who had the middle seats. Then later, the man who came late, stood up and needed to leave (to go the restroom?) during the time that Hedwig and Tommy are having THE conversation! He returned to be seated again with the usheer, and had to walk through our row (hubbie and I are at the end of the row), literally a few seconds just before the part where Tommy rejects Hedwig! I was sooooo disappointed, I felt crushed that that scene was ruined for me. I'm still trying to move on, from my disappointment.
I've been to a good number of shows, at the Ahmanson and Mark Taper in Los Angeles, and a few at the Pantages. The Ahmanson has a strict policy of not allowing people who arrive after the show has started, to enter the theater, because of the distraction (I know this because my friend was not allowed to enter the theater when she arrived 10 minutes late). This wasn't the case with the Pantages. And I guess because most of the shows I've seen have intermissions, I have never (that I can remember) encountered the problem of people interrupting my viewing of the show, due to them needing to leave to use the restroom during the show. People arriving late of course do not have time to use the restroom before the show starts, and he was elderly, so I am not faulting him for needing to go. But he changed my experience for tonight.
At curtain call, the couple to my right decided to leave, so we had to focus on moving out of the way for them, right when I was trying to focus on Darren's bright face looking so happy at curtain call, which was unfortunate as well.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the show tonight. But I'm still feeling the sting of disappointment, and I need to gather my thoughts more on differences I noticed in Darren's performance tonight from the Broadway show I saw, but I can say this right now. Darren has only gotten stronger, both in singing, his song performances, and his acting. Throughout the night, I was thinking to myself: "Oh my god. He is truly so wonderful at this."
I have to give Darren so much credit for dealing with this distractions (the audience was not on its best behavior, to say the least), he is a pro and handles himself like one.
Unlike me, who is still pouting . . .
Just so I don't finish on a downer note (I'm so
sorry for venting), my husband and I didn't discuss the show much on the way home. He was tired, tough week at work, So I held back, and didn't ask him 101 questions, like I normally would. I simply asked him what he thought of the show, and how did he think Darren did, reminding him to be honest. He said he wasn't sure
how much he would enjoy
the show, but
he said he really, really
(yes, he said "really" twice)) loved it! He was moved. He thought Darren did "very well" in his acting and his singing. BTW, that is a high compliment from my husband, who is a tough critic. When it comes to the younger actors, he rarely expresses that he feels an actor did "well" in terms of dramatic acting, so that he said Darren did "very
well," is big (to me). He said that Darren was very good in terms of his facial expressions and his voice in terms of expressing emotion.
My husband also high-fived Lena as Yitzhak walked through the aisle. It seemed that during the distance Lena had to walk to our row, there were only a few hands sticking out for her (due to the audience not being familiar with the show?), so she seemed very grateful for the hands that were extended to her. ha! My husband said she had a very firm grip ("she almost took my hand off").
So I will write back, after I've processed more. Sorry again for my negative venting.
EDIT: ha! One thing I want to mention, my husband exclaimed: "Darren got really buff!"