Paules attributes the momentum of the project to a good working relationship and sense of trust with the Menomonie Theatre Guild as well as the addition of the executive director position filled by Blaine Halverson. “It has really afforded us the opportunity to go beyond our regular main stage shows to try to develop our ‘Studio Series’ brand,” says Paules.
While Eau Claire stage performances such as Rocky Horror and Bent are often cited as laying the groundwork for edgier productions, Halverson adds that the timing was congruent with the Menomonie Theater Guild’s evolution. “For about four-five years now we’ve been working to broaden the theater choices we offer,” says Halverson. “We’ve put out uncensored versions of Brighton Beach Memoirs, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Art, Proof, The Zoo Story, and The Coming World, so doing this show is really just a natural part of our progression.”
Miss Dee Lovely suggests that if people can get past the “tabloid concept” of the show, “the themes of love and loss are universal and thought-provoking in that the audience ultimately finds so much they can relate to.” Paules acknowledges that the show is not for everybody. “We don’t want to try to shock our community into acceptance of the issues that are discussed in Hedwig because we know that obviously won’t work,” she says.
Halverson adds, “I do think, though, that it’s always a valuable exercise to challenge our comfort zones with art forms to which we’re not accustomed. At the very least, making those stretches help to teach us empathy.”
Hedwig and the Angry Inch • Sept. 10-11 • Acoustic Café, 102 Main St, Menomonie • 8pm and midnight (Sept. 11 only) • $10 advance, $12 door • tickets available at Tangled Up in Hue, Truckers Union, Acoustic Café (Menomonie), and firstname.lastname@example.org.