Nelson cultural ambassador Bessie Wapp (left) is in rehearsal for the upcoming show Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Director Pat Henman helped prepare her costume for a photo shoot on Sunday evening.

Becoming Hedwig

Nelson cultural ambassador Bessie Wapp is getting into character for three-city tour of Nelson, Cranbrook, Trail.

Nelson cultural ambassador Bessie Wapp was poised patiently in a Selkirk College classroom on Sunday night, sitting still while Hedwig and the Angry Inch director Pat Henman and her team carefully prepared her character’s look for the first time.

Their aim was to transform the 48-year-old woman into the titular rockstar, an East German survivor of a botched sex change surgery.

While they tinkered with the wigs, perfected the pancaked 80s-style glam makeup and tested out the fit of various costume items, including a pair of gaudy gold earrings and an old-school denim vest, the Star sat down with Wapp to find out what the rehearsal process has been like so far.

“Vith the accent, it is hard to find the right amount. Not too little und not too much. I vant people to understand the vords, so it can’t be too strong,” said Wapp, in character. “Ven I am singing my songs they must understand the vords.”

Wapp recently cut off her lengthy hair, a move necessary to complete her transformation. Throughout most of the show she will be wearing giant blond wigs.

“You are now seeing me put on the vig for the first time, or that’s not quite true. This is the first time you’re seeing vun that’s acceptable. The other one vas hideous.”

When asked whether she would like her photograph taken, Wapp swept her hair back triumphantly.

“Please do. I vould like zat.”

And when, moments later, she was given a mirror to see the resulting look for the first time, Wapp gasped.

“Oh my God, wow. See, this is how I always feel, whenever I put on makeup,” she said, with a laugh. “Wunderbar!”

Wapp is now two weeks into the rehearsal process for the show, which was written by John Cameron Mitchell. The award-winning musical, which has toured Broadway multiple times, has attracted actors such as Ally Sheedy, Michael C. Hall and Neil Patrick Harris to the role.

Wapp will share the stage with Sydney Black as her Croatian husband Yitzhak. The production is a collaboration between Selkirk College and Black Productions. Darren Mahe and three Selkirk music students—piano player Amanda Cawley, guitarist Leonard Pallerstein and drummer Brennan Buglioni—will play Hedwig’s band The Angry Inch.

“The musicians are fantastic and the partnership is a wonderful idea. A theatre company partnering with Selkirk, with the wonderful Darren Mahe being band leader and mentor? That’s great. It’s professional experience for them and believe me, I vill use them!”

The six-person show will be the first ever theatrical performance at the Shambhala Music & Performance Hall and will run for three weekends in February.

“I’m really looking forward to sharing what I think is a brilliant script with audiences and having them be as moved by it as I am. It’s so layered. We were talking in rehearsal about how so many comedians are born out of terrible trauma, and they learn how to talk about it in a way that makes you laugh and cry almost at the same time. This show is kind of like that. It’s so rich.”

Wapp said the musical rewards close attention.

“There are a lot of images in the show that resonate and surface and relate to each other in different contexts throughout the play. There’s a lot of lines where I’ll stumble over it, because on the surface it means one thing and then you realize this relates to that, and it has a way deeper meaning.”

Wapp said working with Henman has been a pleasure.

“Vell, Bessie would say it’s okay, but Hedvig would have some complaints about her,” she said.

And when asked if all this recognition has gone too her head, Wapp lost interest in the conversation and gazed lovingly at herself in the mirror.

“Sorry, did you say something?” she asked.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch will play on February 12 to 14, 19 to 21 and 26 to 28 at 7:30 p.m.

It will then tour to Trail, where it will play at the Charles Bailey Theatre on March 6. Next up will be a show in Cranbrook, where it will play at the Key City Theatre on March 7.

Nelson tickets are available through the Capitol Theatre, and are $25 for adults and $20 for students. The shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Ticket prices vary for Cranbrook and Trail.

Cash tickets are available at the door. For more information visit capitoltheatre.bc.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Castlegar Summer Reading Club program set to kickoff

The program will be held online this year due to the COVID-19 crisis

Castlegar fire crews respond to kitchen fire

Three fire trucks, the CFD command vehicle, two RCMP vehicles and one ambulance attended incident

RDCK: spring flooding financial relief available

The provincial funds are for those affected by flooding in May and early June

Mills oppose Celgar’s ask for cheaper logs destined for chipper

The Castlegar mill has asked the province for a lower rate for any log that goes straight to pulp

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Ottawa jail inmates argue anti-COVID measures a breach of charter rights

The prisoners allege guards did not wear masks until April 25

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

US unemployment falls to 11%, but new shutdowns are underway

President Donald Trump said the jobs report shows the economy is “roaring back”

Most Read